Whitmer for Congress, Donor Dollars at Finlandia University, UP Child Care Solutions, An Idea From a Reader, & Dark Store Exemption Legislation



Good Morning to everyone in the Upper Peninsula. Today is Law Day in the United States and Workers Day in nations around the world. However you celebrate it, enjoy the day and have a great first week of May.

Whitmer For Congress

Nope, not Big Gretch, not The Honorable Gretchen Whitmer nor Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Not her daughters. Not her husband. But yes, Liz Whitmer Gereghty, her younger sister. Not in Michigan but in New York state, in the 17th Congressional District. (Katonah/Lewisboro News.)

A political dynasty being born, like the Kennedy or the Bush families..???

An Answer on What Happens to Those Donor Dollars at Finlandia University

“The Attorney General of Michigan has an interest in dissolutions in higher education in Michigan, especially in the case of Finlandia, they’re always interested in what happens to the restricted endowment dollars. The endowments, when the university dissolves, my understanding is, will revert to the state. And then the state will allocate those funds based on the universities that have transitioned students and faculty out,” according to Patrick O’Keefe. (Keweenaw Report. 4.24.23).

Child Care Solutions in the UP

We have written a lot in this newsletter about child care availability and costs in the Upper Peninsula. Some would say it is a real problem and others would say it is a crisis. NMU is working with a private company, Wee Care, to help identify and develop in-home child care providers in the Marquette area. They are having success.

Also, they report that the Michigan Tri-Care Child Care program may be able to help some UP families. Families with a household income between 201% and 325% of the federal poverty level may qualify to have two-thirds of their child care costs paid through the program. The actual dollar amount for poverty level is family of two at $19,720, family of four is $30,000 and it goes up from there for each additional family member. Check with your employer.

If you know of other developments in your community in the UP to help assist with this child care crisis please let us know and we will let our readers know.

An Idea From a Reader

Provide reserved parking spaces for veterans at all public buildings. They wrote that it will require some sort of car window tag that the veteran could get from local, state or federal governments. Thoughts? Ideas to improve and expand this idea?

If you have an idea to help citizens of the UP as they lead their daily lives let us know. We will consider sharing some as we receive them.

Will Local Income Taxes Help Local UP Governments With Their Revenue Problems?

The Michigan “dark store exemption” in the tax code has been taken advantage of by big box stores all over Michigan. It has had its biggest impact on local government revenue in the Upper Peninsula, costing millions and millions of dollars. Often this has caused cuts in local government services, K-12 school districts and local public libraries. The legislature is once again considering legislation that would amend the “dark store exemption,” but thus far no action has been taken to get the bill to final passage.

Now there is talk by local government leaders and policy experts that there should be an amendment to the Michigan public act that restricts a local income tax to allow local governments with smaller populations to get approval for a local income tax. Also some communities want authority to implement commuter taxes. So far all talk, discussion, debate and no action.

The prestigious and non-partisan Citizen Research Council of Michigan has a report out this year that notes, “As of 2018, property taxes accounted for nearly three-quarters of all local government collections in Michigan and almost one-third of public revenue collected by state and local governments.”

This report certainly adds facts to the debate about local government revenues and possible need for local government income taxes and/or local commuter taxes. You can find more detail on this report at www.crcmich.org.

From the World Around Us

“In Northern Michigan’s Benzie County, where the Sleeping Bear Dunes are located, they are trying a creative idea to help with their local housing problem. Sixty-percent of their homes are occupied by vacationers in summer, driving up the cost of houses beyond what many middle wage earners can afford. Local officials there are leveraging federal money to build 1,200 square foot houses that will be sold for less than they cost to build, $175,000.”

Quotes That Make Us Go Hmmm

“Manners are of more importance than laws. The law touches us but here and there, and now and then. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us….  They give their whole form and color to our lives. According to their quality, they aid morals, they supply them or they totally destroy them.” Edmund Burke.

Books Recommended By Our Readers

“How Private Equity Runs–and Wrecks–America.” Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner. 2023.

Talk To Us

Keep your raves, laurels, rants and darts coming. Send them to us at david@ruralinsights.org. We love to read them. 

About Us

Rural Insights connects policy, information, news and culture to raise topics and stories/information you might have not seen or overlooked. We bring you original writing from Rural Insights and other researchers, change makers, and storytellers, as well as our latest research and analysis.

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David Haynes

David Haynes has served as a professor of public administration and public policy. He previously has served as President of Northern Michigan University. David has been involved in the public administration and political science field for over 45 years.


  1. Kevin on May 1, 2023 at 7:57 am

    With regards to the veteran parking spaces – don’t veterans view that as somewhat infantilizing? They can’t walk from across the parking lot because they’re veterans? Of course if they have an injury or disability from their service, then they should have reserved parking, but they would also have a handicap tag and be able to use that space.

  2. Diana Hetrick on May 1, 2023 at 10:54 am

    I am a board member of a nonprofit childcare center, I also have thirty years experience as a childcare program director. Almost all childcare providers are experiencing a shortage of qualified staff and program aides. Due to staffing and child ratios, many Centers have space available but not enough staff to comply with childcare needs and State ratio regulations.

    Childcare centers are facing an employee shortages. The childcare industry is very regulated for the children’s program content, safety, staffing education, physical building, and so much more. It is tough to meet the requirements and to find. But, the main concern for our area is securing staff who are dedicated to the children and meet education requirements for employment.

    Currently, the State has a T.E.A.C.H. Program available to anyone interested in a career in early child development, or related fields. The program/ scholarship allows high school students to enroll, college students, and those seeking master degrees. In this area the Middle College Program (MARESA) some local high schools, and Bay College participate.

    Parents of students and people interested in this exciting field you can research this program information at MI.GOV.

    Childcare is a professional career. This T.E.A.C.H. program is one of the few State sponsored education scholarship programs. The future needs of childcare, early child education programs, private are expanding within the the next few years. It is a highly employable field. Check it out!

  3. Bob Miller on May 1, 2023 at 12:52 pm

    I’m a Vietnam Era veteran and I rather not see any requirement for designated parking. If parking in one required that some agency screen people and issue credentials, that seems like a new and largely unnecessary administrative task.
    Then once credentials are issued, it would imply that law enforcement officers should take some sort of action against violators.
    As it is we get friction over use of handicapped spaces by drivers who either lack credentials or have them and look fine.
    I think this invites conflict in a culture that has plenty already.

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