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The Case For Support

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.
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An Independent Voice in Michigan

Since 1916, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan has worked to provide thoughtful, honest, independent analysis to Michigan legislators and media. Because the Research Council 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

The Research Council 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 policymakers, the Research Council 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 the Citizens Research Council 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. The Research Council is a 501(c)(3) organization, and contributions and donations made to it are tax deductible under the Internal Revenue Code. Without this support, the Research Council would not be able to continue to provide insightful, nonpartisan analyses of a wide range of state and local policy issues.
All of our research products are available without charge in both published form and on the website. While most of the Research Council’s financial support comes from the business community and foundations, an increasing amount comes from individuals who find our research reports and other resources valuable in understanding state and local government issues.
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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 2017, Citizens Research Council’s analysis of budget pressures and the rainy day fund caused a statewide discussion of the state’s readiness for the next recession.
  • In 2016, Citizens Research Council’s analysis of Detroit Public Schools’ debt load defined the problem for policymakers challenged to provide financial relief.
  • In 2015, Citizens Research Council staff traveled the state describing to interested voters the complicated constitutional amendment tied to highway funding.
  • In 2013, Citizens Research Council provided the citizens of Saugatuck and Douglas with a detailed analysis of the effects of a proposed merger.
  • In 2012, Citizens Research Council’s analyses of the six statewide ballot questions were downloaded more than 200,000 times.
  • In 2009, Citizens Research Council’s report on corrections prompted the Governor and Legislature to reduce spending on corrections and address part of the state’s structural budget deficit.
  • In 2008, Citizens Research Council documented Michigan’s structural budget problems and quantified the long-term costs of the state’s structural budget deficit.
  • In 2004, Citizens Research Council identified the large unfunded liability in Michigan’s retired-teacher health care benefits.
  • In 2001, Citizens Research Council was the first organization to identify the State of Michigan general-fund structural deficit. The Research Council has been following the issue ever since then.
  • In 1996, Citizens Research Council’s research led to a new method of distributing Community Mental Health funds.
  • In 1995, the Research Council’s research helped define the relation between the State, local government and casinos.
  • In 1990, Citizens Research Council’s research led to the Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act.
  • In 1982, the Research Council was the only organization capable of providing unbiased information to help resolve the funding crisis in Unemployment Compensation.
  • In 1981, Citizens Research Council’s research was critical to the adoption of the Wayne County charter.
  • In 1978, Citizens Research Council’s research led tothe Uniform Local Government Budgeting Act.
  • In 1969, the Research Council provided in-depth analysis of education funding issues as Michigan restructured its method of education finance.
  • In 1962, the Citizens Research Council 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.
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Of the People and for the People

An organization of Michigan citizens, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan is a nonprofit corporation with a 75-member board of trustees that is charged annually with selecting a 35-member, policy-making board of directors.
For more than 100 years, the Citizens Research Council has been at the forefront of compelling issues of the day. Research staff seek out topics of immediate relevancy, as well as those of rising concern, and deliver timely, clear and concise findings. During its tenure, the Research Council 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
  • Healthcare 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 policymakers, business leaders, the media, and the public in printed and electronic formats.
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Independent Research, Credible Voice

With a reputation for credibility and a rare combination of expertise and independence, the Research Council 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, the Citizens Research Council stands above other research organizations as Michigan’s most respected public-policy research organization. Policymakers, the media and citizens have come to rely on the Research Council 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 policymakers
  • Educate Michigan voters by examining complex ballot issues in election years

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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, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan has received numerous awards over the years. Most recently, the Council received recognition for:

  • Award for Most Effective Education, 2016
    Governmental Research Association
    Statewide Ballot Issue: Proposal 15-1, Sales and Motor Fuel Tax Increases Related to Transportation Funding
  • Award for Most Effective Education, 2014
    Governmental Research Association
    Medical Costs of No-fault Automobile Insurance
  • 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

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The Value of Objectivity

The need for a non-partisan, independent voice on development of public policy for Michigan’s state and local government is as strong now as it has ever been. With hyper-partisan politics often driving the development of policy, citizens and policymakers are seeking a source of trustworthy information. The Citizens Research Council has been that voice for more than a century and aims to improve its ability to serve that role in the future. More than ever, citizens, business leaders, elected officials, and policymakers need trusted independent and objective research to make sound public policy decisions.
In response, the leadership of the Citizens Research Council initiated a capacity-building fundraising campaign in 2016, its centennial year, to raise an additional $3.5 million over the next five years.

  • Bring stability by balancing receipts and expenditures
  • Help cultivate new contributors by improving communications and public relations abilities
  • Expand the Citizen Research Council’s research capacity
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