We’re back for another year at the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference – and some topics change, and some stay the same.
Education funding and possible reform is front and center again. Funding and support for the continuation of Detroit Public Schools are hung up on the idea of a Detroit Education Commission; that there would be a central body that would help regulate where schools go within the city and make sure that lower-performing operators aren’t able to clone their models. However, Republicans lobbyists, especially from the west side of the state, are steadfast against it. We’re going to be sitting down later today with Tonya Allen, CEO of Skillman Foundation.
One of the program items most anticipated by attendees here is an interview with Dan Gilbert. The interviewer will be Dennis Archer Jr. (yes, the son of the former mayor who is now a businessman with multiple ventures, including Central Kitchen in downtown Detroit). He’s going to talk to Gilbert about the “future of Detroit,” which should be interesting.
Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention mass transit. A big, multi-county plan was unveiled yesterday (Daily Detroit coverage here) and it’s expected that a large number of elected leaders are going to push for it. One of the interesting things is that there’s this expectation among Detroit area voters that mass transit should be revenue neutral – paid on farebox revenue or self sufficient – but that’s also not how modern transit systems are funded. Our Ardelia Lee and Shianne Nocerini are digging more into what other cities around the nation and world do to fund transit. But here are the key takeaways from the transit plan.
There’s also talk about entrepreneurship. There are a lot of folks starting interesting ideas all around Metro Detroit; if you’re a regular reader, you know we cover a good deal of them. We’ll talk to some of those very interesting folks.