Mackinac Center for Public Policy

The Mackinac Center is the largest conservative state-level policy think-tank in the nation. The Michigan-based organization promotes market-driven policies on a wide range of issues and espouses limited government principles. The Center's success in influencing Michigan policies has served as a model for other state-level think tanks.

140 W. Main St.
P.O. Box 568
Midland, MI 48640
(989) 631-0900

Chairman: D. Joseph Olson
President: Lawrence Reed
Founded/Place: 1987, Michigan
Board of Directors: Joseph Fitzsimmons, Paul Gadola, Richard Haworth, Phil Jenkins, Edward Levy, Rodney Lockwood, Joseph Maguire, Richard McLellan, James Rodney, Linda Rodney
Finances: $2,442,705 (2004)
Publications: The organization publishes books, periodicals, audio archives, commentaries, studies, and news releases. Books include: Empire Builders, The Industrial Revolution and Free Trade, Private Cures for Public Ills, and Gridlock in Government: How to Break the Stagnation of America. The center publishes the quarterly reports, the Michigan Education Report and MichiganScience.
Affiliate Groups:; State Policy Network, a national network of state-based right-wing organizations in 37 states as well as prominent nationwide right-wing organizations. Through its network SPN advances the public policy ideas of the expansive right-wing political movement on the state and local level


The Center's goal is to find solutions to policy questions and through this improve the quality of life for Michigan citizens. Their view is that government intervention is not the best solution; other institutions such as business, family, and community should play a major role.


The Mackinac Center for Policy Research focuses on advancing government privatization and espousing conservative fiscal policies. The group actively advocates school vouchers and the privatization of the University of Michigan. The Center publishes the Michigan Education Report in support of its policies. In promoting other limited-government, free-market economic principles, the group advocates measures such as privatizing Amtrak and prisons facilities and eliminating government subsidies for arts and culture initiatives. The Center is also anti-union, having pursued initiatives to limit union political spending and attacked mandatory union membership policies. Additionally, the Center's President, Lawrence Reed runs a "think-tank school" on establishing and effectively maintaining state-level conservative think-tanks.


The Mackinac Center was established in 1987 to promote free-market policies and limited government ideals. The organization pioneered the state-level think-tank, establishing a model for smaller and often more narrowly focused think-tanks to affect local and state politics. Though there are now 48 such state-level organizations, the Mackinac Center remains the largest and the most well known.


In the last few years, the center has received grants from: Sarah Scaife Foundation, Roe Foundation, Ruth and Lovett Peters Foundation, Rodney Fund, Orville D. and Ruth A. Merillat Foundation, JM Foundation, Earhart Foundation, Charles G. Koch Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, Dick and Betsy Devos Foundation and Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.


"The role of the Mackinac Center is to change public opinion and move public policy toward the political right. The Mackinac Center does not conduct neutral or objective scholarship. Rather, it provides the media and government officials with publications designed to promote and advance its conservative agenda."— Michigan Education Association, "Critiquing the Mackinac Center Report on Collective Bargaining," Oct 1998.

"Many of the documents described by the Mackinac Center as 'studies' do not represent genuine social science research… few Mackinac Center studies are of high quality and very few would be accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal…"

"While it is possible to conduct high quality social science research in private think tanks and research centers, it is necessary that the studies by subjected to an internal review process that has integrity and that they be scrutinized by qualified and disinterested external reviewers… The way in which Mackinac Center sponsored research characteristically frames questions is biased and the methodology employed of little social science merit…"

"The work of the Mackinac Center may have caused more confusion than clarity in the public discussion of the issues that it has addressed by systematically ignoring evidence that does not agree with its proposed solutions."
– Cookson, Molnar, and Embree, Let the Buyer Beware

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