Aside from high-profile partisan and judicial races, Michiganders have big decisions to make on six ballot proposals. There is one legislative referendum and five proposed constitutional amendments. The outcome of these measures will impact the economically frustrated Great Lakes State for the long-term. Voters ought to weigh potential consequences carefully.

Proposal 1 = YES

Summary: To uphold Public Act 4, otherwise known as the Emergency Financial Manager legislation, signed into law earlier this year.

Should government officials be allowed to drive failing cities like Detroit and Flint into bankruptcy, or should a fresh set of hands be employed? Proponents believe localities ought to be held responsible for their terrible fiscal oversight while others expect a temporary solution: a bailout from Lansing.

Bill Schuette, Michigan Attorney General, maintains that if the measure does not pass, the previous law would take effect. Albeit to a lesser extent Public Act 72 stills allows for the appointment of financial managers under distressed circumstances.

The bottom line is that troubled towns have benefited from the assistance. Mismanaged local governments have failed their constituents – they deserve better. Please give your nod of approval to commonsense economic reforms.

Proposal 2 = NO

Summary: To grant government-sector unions the effective right to veto legislation passed via the legislative process.

Arguably the most damaging of the bunch, the inaptly dubbed ‘‘Protect Our [Union] Jobs’’  amendment would stifle prospects of economic growth immediately. Entrepreneurs may as well skip Michigan entirely en route to pro-business states like neighboring Indiana: the Midwest’s first state to adopt right-to-work legislation. An unstable regulatory climate means uncertainty for CEOs and management – a terrible message to send to potential investment interests.

It is no secret Big Labor is behind this one. From the United Auto Workers (UAW) to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and Michigan Education Association (MEA), union bosses have put their full weight into an aggressive and deceitful marketing campaign.

What is worse, the aforementioned organizations would possess the ability to override the legislative process. According to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, ‘‘Unions would have an effective veto, but unlike the governor, they could veto laws enacted years ago.’’ Please avoid a whole host of irreparable damages by voting no!

Proposal 3 = NO

Summary: To mandate a 25% reliance on ‘green’ energy by 2025.

Prima facie, the 25×25 pitch seems like a predominately legislative affair. Under Jennifer Granholm, a partisan Democrat executive, the State House and Senate made a related pledge. A much more reasonable 10% goal was established in 2008. Thus, why must our constitution be amended?

To the dismay of the proposal’s donors, Care for Michigan has conducted in-depth research. The pipe dream for renewable independence in thirteen years would cost taxpayers an estimated $12 billion or more. At the federal level we have witnessed high-profile instances of crony capitalism, namely Solyndra.

Regardless of how one may perceive the necessity of energy independence and sketchy climate science, constitutionalizing grandiose hopes is not the solution. So far no state has etched such a provision in their prime governing document.

Proposal 4 = NO

Summary: To require that all home healthcare workers join a union as a condition of providing their services.

Similar to Proposal 2, this platform seeks to strengthen unions via government. Technocratic idealists believe that further regulation will bring about a safer society – you be the judge. It also stands to artificially expand Big Labor’s membership. The if-you-can’t-persuade-them-force-them mentality is all too exemplified here.

Citizens for Affordable Quality Home Care – a political action committee which holds the twisted view that forced unionization somehow yields cheaper and better healthcare – refuses to disclose the source of their funding. But a closer look at the paper trail is revealing.

Campaign finance reports indicate that the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, has bankrolled at least $5.5 million thus far. North America’s self-proclaimed fastest growing government-sector union stands to gain a host of new members, automatically and without consultation of the will of the workforce, if voters OK the scheme.

Proposal 5 = YES

Summary: To require a two-thirds majority in both legislative chambers in order to enact a tax increase.

Michiganders are taxed enough already. It ought to be difficult for our elected representatives to impose steeper levies on the backs of hard-working citizens.

Governor Rick Snyder and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, the 2010 Democrat gubernatorial nominee, have allied in opposition. In fact, they have filmed a commercial together. The tax-and-spend mantra is to be expected from the latter, while rumor has it the former plans to raise gasoline taxes.

An observation by the Detroit News notes that ‘‘states with two-thirds tax hike thresholds have had difficulty getting voters to agree to pay more for state government.’’ Indeed less – not more – government is the answer. A yes vote signals support of a genuine bipartisan consensus and transparency in order for another tax increase.

Proposal 6 = YES

Summary: To prevent any bridge from being built by the government without receiving approval at the polls.

The governor vehemently opposes this measure, as he plans to construct a second international crossing from Detroit to southern Ontario. Interestingly, Snyder and the Republican-controlled legislature are not on the same page. A public vote before the people could doom the controversial scenario.

With regards to the American-Canadian agreement there are many unknowns. Paul Opsommer, a term-limited State Representative, says the jury is still out. Advocates of a government bridge insist that Canada would pick up the tab; however, the sweetheart deal seems too good to be true.

For what it is worth Manuel “Matty’’ Maroun, a wealthy area businessman, has financially backed the movement to put a halt to unilateral executive action. To the tune of several million dollars, television and print advertisements have flooded the news mediums this month.


For those aware of constitutional structures, some of these proposals – 2, 3, and 4 – ought to serve as a shock. What if they pass? A dangerous precedent for abuse of the people’s initiative may be established. On the other hand, some – 1, 5, and 6 – stand to fuel the reinvention effort.

Please inform family and friends who happen to be voting Michiganders!

Click here for the full text versions of the proposals.

Nick Kowalski | Michigan State University | @NKowalski