How high is rent in six Michigan cities?

Finance guidelines say housing should not cost more than 30 percent of household income. But in 2013, thousands of Michigan rental households fall below that standard.   Michigan Two-bedroom fair market rental: $768 Hourly wages needed to afford two-bedroom fair market rental: […]

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Immigrants can help revitalize Michigan

Michigan State University and its surrounding community of Lansing-East Lansing are among the Top 10 for largest international student enrollment in the United States. Each fall, more than 6,500 international students — 1,800 of whom are new to the university —  arrive […]

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To kill the gerrymander, elect better representatives

Rep. Sean McCann, D-Kalamazoo, has proposed legislation that would establish an independent, nonpartisan commission consisting of “regular citizens” to “create legislative district maps that are competitive, geographically compact and contiguous.” McCann contends his bill would “prohibit creating districts that protect incumbents.” More […]

Read Conor Dugan's article

Guest commentary: Will there ever be a good time to fund road repairs?

By Craig Thiel/Anderson Economic Group A long-term funding fix to Michigan’s deteriorating road and bridge infrastructure system can’t seem to catch a break. For much of the last decade, Michigan’s anemic economic performance made the prospect of raising the necessary revenues to […]

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Best, worst of Michigan communities’ fiscal ratings

David Hollister knows a bit about how public budgets work. He served as mayor of Lansing for a decade. Before that, he served two decades in the Michigan House, representing Lansing. And he says, “We need to recalculate how urban centers are […]

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Stressed cities hear little sympathy from State Capitol

Michigan cities expecting a helping hand from Lansing as they dig out of years of fiscal turmoil might want to look elsewhere. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder stated as much last month at a Michigan Municipal League conference, when he said, “We all […]

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Land O Links

*Michigan is in the national mainstream when it comes to the identity of its highest-paid public state employee. In about 40 states, that person is the coach of a collegiate football or men’s basketball team. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo would be Michigan’s […]

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What’s up, who’s down in state economy?

While the Holland area may be better known to outsiders for its Dutch heritage and pristine Lake Michigan beaches, the locals know its economy is driven by manufacturing. The area suffered as manufacturing output fell by a third during the Great Recession. […]

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Land O Links

“The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it” — John Locke, 17th century English philosopher. * The Center for New Opportunity, a start-up incubator launched by some positive-thinking folks in Lansing, gets a nice write-up on The Atlantic Cities […]

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Guest column: Politicians get big favor with IRS-backed spending accounts

By Steve Harry What are 527 accounts and why should the voters of Michigan care? I’ve been all worked up about Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero’s 527 account since September 2009, when I read an article in the Lansing State Journal by Derek […]

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Truth Squad delves into casino land ownership

A plan to build eight casinos in Michigan moving toward November’s ballot remains almost as sketchy in financial detail as the day it was announced in April. One of the key features of the proposal is to prescribe eight specific casino locations. So, […]

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Michigan food and the case of the Chinese cherries

Matt Gougeon runs the Marquette Food Co-op, a store that began the way a lot of co-ops did in the 1970s, as a buying club for a number of families who wanted food that was hard to find in the Upper Peninsula. […]

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Double-duty fire chief serves two Lansings

Randy Talifarro has dealt with his share of dangerous situations during nearly three decades in firefighting. Perhaps that’s why the veteran East Lansing fire chief didn’t exactly charge into the fray when asked to assume the task of also running the city […]

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In some cities, it’s cash that’s burning

In Michigan, your home address says everything about how much you spend for fire protection. In Midland, a city of 41,000, residents paid $155 per person in 2010 for their Fire Department. But in Wyoming, a West Michigan city of about 72,000, […]

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Medical calls dominate fire run stats

When the dispatch call goes to a typical Michigan fire station, chances are it has nothing to do with fire. In fact, odds are about four in five it’s some kind of medical emergency. And even then, it may well turn out […]

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Pension costs burn through city budgets

Lansing’s taxpayers were doused with some difficult news last week: The city’s pension fund for police and fire retirees could use a nearly $2 million boost from the city’s general fund. And the city’s already fighting a budget deficit. Big-city fire departments […]

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Merging fire services is tricky business

In January, the state started handing out money to local governments as incentives to consolidate public services with neighbors. Fire protection sharing figured prominently in the first round of 27 grants totaling $4.3 million. But it’s the lack of money, rather than […]

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Michigan’s ‘Faltering 40′ on college prep

If you want your son or daughter to succeed in college, there are 40 public school districts you may want to avoid. In an analysis by Bridge Magazine and Public Sector Consultants, these 40 districts, spread across the state and ranging from […]

Read Ron French's article

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