Good Information for a Better Society

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be.
-Thomas Jefferson

Good information-sound, accurate, independent information about government-lies at the core of any functional democracy. Our founding fathers knew this. They ranked freedom of speech first among all rights because they knew public discourse and decision-making depend on good information. Without it, self-government becomes a dangerous guessing game. Yet in an age of spin and rhetoric, term limits, media handlers, special interests and partisan politics, truth in public policy has never been harder to ascertain. For Michigan’s term-limited legislators and citizens alike, the need for an objective voice has never been greater.

An Independent Voice in Michigan

Since 1916, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC) has worked to provide thoughtful, honest, independent analysis to Michigan legislators and media. Because CRC is independent, its analysis has proven uniquely effective at producing:

  • Better decisions by policy-makers, legislators and local officials
  • Better oversight by citizens
  • Better accountability in Michigan government

CRC fosters better government through better information. It is the availability of objective facts and analysis that enables citizens to evaluate the decisions their public officials make on important issues confronting Michigan state and local government. By providing an independent, indispensable voice that puts the best and most accurate information at the disposal of policy-makers, CRC works to bring about government that is more efficient, more equitable and more accountable. This fosters better government, and for that reason, elected and appointed officials, business leaders, members of the press, corporate decision-makers, trade-association stakeholders, and heads of colleges and universities all turn to CRC when they need independent, unbiased information.

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan is supported by the private contributions of businesses, foundations, and individuals across the state. CRC is a 501(c)(3) organization and contributions and donations made to it are tax deductible under the Internal Revenue Code. Without this support, CRC would not be able to continue to provide insightful, nonpartisan analyses of a wide range of state and local policy issues.

All CRC research products are available without charge in both published form and on the website. While most of CRC’s financial support comes from the business community and foundations, we welcome donations from individuals who find our research reports and other resources valuable in understanding state and local government issues.

A Profound Effect on Michigan and Its Policies

Over the years, CRC’s fact-finding and analysis have been instrumental in many notable decisions, including:

  • In 2008, CRC documented the state’s structural budget problems in an indepth analysis of revenue and expenditure trends.
  • In 2005, CRC, together with the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University, provided the first estimate of unmet needs for school construction and alternatives for meeting those needs.
  • In 2004, CRC identified the large unfunded liability in Michigan’s retired-teacher health care benefits.
  • In 2001, CRC was the first organization to identify the State of Michigan general-fund structural deficit. CRC has been following the issue ever since then.
  • In 1996, CRC research led to a new method of distributing Community Mental Health funds.
  • In 1995, CRC research helped define the relation between the State, local government and casinos.
  • In 1990, CRC research led to the Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act.
  • In 1982, CRC was the only organization capable of providing unbiased information to help resolve the funding crisis in Unemployment Compensation.
  • In 1981, CRC research was critical to the adoption of the Wayne County charter.
  • In 1978, CRC research led tothe Uniform Local Government Budgeting Act.
  • In 1969, CRC provided in-depth analysis of education funding issues as Michigan restructured its method of education finance.
  • In 1962, CRC received a resolution of tribute from the Michigan Constitutional Convention for its invaluable independent analysis of constitutional issues.

The existence of an organization such as CRC, with its expertise and determined objectivity, is imperative. No other body has the independence or the credibility to effect such positive change.

Of the People and for the People

An organization of Michigan citizens, CRC is a nonprofit corporation with a 75-member board of trustees that is charged annually with selecting a 27-member, policy-making board of directors.

For nearly 90 years, CRC has been at the forefront of compelling issues of the day. Research staff seeks out topics of immediate relevancy, as well as those of rising concern, and delivers timely, clear and concise findings. During its tenure, CRC has researched virtually every aspect of state and local government for public benefit, including:

  • State finance and budget issues
  • State and local tax policy
  • Local government finance
  • State and local intergovernmental relations
  • Public education finance
  • Health care policy
  • Highway finance and administration
  • Government structure and organization
  • State ballot issues
  • Corrections policy
  • Mental health policy
  • Casino regulation

The results of this research are made immediately available to policy-makers, business leaders, the media, and the public in printed and electronic formats.

Independent Research, Credible Voice

With a reputation for credibility and a rare combination of expertise and independence, CRC is able to undertake issues that other organizations cannot because of insufficient time or money or because the issue is outside their scope. By steadfastly following its founding vision, CRC stands above other research organizations as Michigan’s most respected public-policy research organization. Policy-makers, the media and citizens have come to rely on CRC to:

  • Research major public issues
  • Identify opportunities to improve effectiveness, efficiency and accountability in government through analysis of government operations
  • Publish research-based reports and memorandums that serve to inform the political debate
  • Conduct forums and briefings on its research findings for policy-makers and opinion leaders
  • Serve as a one-stop information source on state policy issues for members of the media and policy-makers
  • Educate Michigan voters by examining complex ballot issues in election years

A History of Excellence

For its high standards, unequaled contribution to state and local government, and long-standing commitment to fair, objective and independent research, CRC has received numerous awards over the years. Most recently, the Council received recognition for:

  • Award for Most Distinguished Research, 2010
    Governmental Research Association
    Reforming the Process for Identifying and Funding Section 29 Mandates on Local Governments
  • Award for Most Distinguished Research, 2009
    Governmental Research Association
    Approaches to Consolidating Local Government Services
  • Award for Most Distinguished Research, 2008
    Governmental Research Association
    Michigan’s Fiscal Future
  • Award for Outstanding Policy Achievement, 2004
    Governmental Research Association
    Avoiding Local Government Crisis: The Role of State Oversight
  • Regional Ambassador Award, 2003
    Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG)
    SEMCOG’s highest honor is awarded to individuals and organizations for their contributions in making southeast Michigan a better place to live, work and raise a family. CRC was given the award in recognition of the data and information it provides to assist Michigan’s decision-makers. The organization’s expertise on state budget matters was particularly beneficial earlier in the year, when CRC provided solid estimates of the revenue shortfalls the state was facing
  • Certificate of Merit for Distinguished Research, 2003
    Governmental Research Association
    Public Policy Issues in the Financing of Michigan Hospitals
  • Certificate of Merit for Distinguished Research, 2002
    Governmental Research Association
    Outline of State of Michigan Health Programs
  • Most Original Presentation, 2001
    Governmental Research Association
    Proposal 00-1 of 2000: School Choice in Michigan
  • Most Original Presentation, 2000
    Governmental Research Association
    Citizens Research Council of Michigan Web Site

The Value of Objectivity

With business mergers and acquisitions and the proliferation of nonprofit organizations, CRC has underscored the importance of a stable financial base. As Michigan’s economy and government evolve-with term limits for politicians profoundly affecting the process and increasing the need for relevant and unbiased information-new, critical, and controversial public-policy questions and issues arise, creating ever-greater demand for CRC’s independent, nonpartisan policy research.

In response, the leadership of the Citizens Research Council has put in place an ambitious plan for its future funding. At the center is a $14 million funding initiative to be implemented over the next five years. Through this effort, CRC seeks to:

  • Ensure CRC’s independence into the future
  • Add research capability to more consistently monitor three major areas of public policy: education, health care and infrastructure development
  • Continue ongoing research capacity in the policy areas of state finance, local government, tax policy and intergovernmental relations
  • Enhance CRC’s ability to facilitate and inform public-policy discussion in Michigan by continuing to provide independent, unbiased, fact-based research
  • Expose CRC research and publications to an even wider audience