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5 December 2012

* The New York Times, in a national review of business tax breaks, focused on Michigan’s star-crossed film incentive program: “As the ‘Oz’ shoot was under way, Pontiac moved on to its third emergency manager, Louis Schimmel, and he was not a fan of incentives. A former municipal bond analyst, Mr. Schimmel spent decades warning Michigan towns against trading tax revenues for jobs. ‘I’m just about the biggest critic of these programs, because giving away the taxes of the city is so detrimental,’ he said. ‘The money is needed for police, fire and trash pickup.'”

Michigan’s film incentives have changed considerably in recent years, as Bridge reported recently:

Film Office starts new year wsith more dollars, higher hopes

* Five states around the country are trying a radical experiment — adding time to the school year. A blast from Michigan’s recent past on the state’s rather contrarian approach to the intersection of time and learning:

Longer school day pilot program to add 300 hours of time for students

* Michigan spent much of 2012 arguing over the best methods to generate power. A new report from the Public Service Commission shows how much ground can be made through efforts to save power: “Energy Optimization program expenditures of $205 million by all combined gas and electric utilities in the state resulted in lifecycle savings to customers of at least $709 million. This means that for every dollar spent on EO programs in 2011, customers should realize benefits of $3.55.”

2012 Report on the Implementation of P.A. 295 Utility Energy Optimization Programs

* An Ingham County judge said the Legislature and governor were within their powers to make changes to the teacher retirement system known as MPSERS. Educator groups had challenged the changes as violating constitutional protections on pensions:

Court rules MPSERS reform constitutional

*  Those of us over age 40 may recall the intro to a popular TV show of the 1970s: “We can rebuild him. We have the technology … We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man; better than he was before, better, stronger, faster.” The limitations of passenger rail service in this country are not technological, but cultural/political:

Why can’t we have a 300-mph floating train like Japan?

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