News Releases

Increased revenues create opportunity for Legislature to address problems in education, child poverty

For Immediate Release
May 16, 2018

Contact:
Karen Holcomb Merrill
karenhm@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the revenue projections being announced at today’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference. It can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“Learning that there is more revenue available in the budget gives us hope that lawmakers will take this opportunity to invest in what they’ve failed to adequately support in recent years: our kids.

The false notion that everyone in our state has rebounded from the great recession continues to keep Michigan’s children behind. Kids living in poverty are more likely to have poor nutrition, live in unsafe conditions and have less success in school. The 2019 budget proposals seem to ignore these facts and will cause our children to lose even more potential.

Family Independence Program (FIP) grants have not seen a significant increase since 1996 and we were pleased that the governor was willing to make a small inflationary increase. But that increase was entirely inadequate given the erosion of purchasing power for families receiving FIP. Adding insult to injury, the Legislature couldn’t even agree to that small increase. Eight out of 10 FIP recipients are kids. Refusing to set aside additional funding for children and families shows us where the Legislature’s priorities are—or where they are not. According to our Kids Count report, 1 in 5 kids in Michigan lives in poverty. Instead of helping these children thrive, the Legislature has pushed strict lifetime limits on FIP and created sanctions for entire families based on just one child’s absences. Fewer kids are getting help today with basic needs like food, shelter and clothing than they were in the late 1950s.

We know that education is key to helping kids thrive, so we also hope this increased revenue will result in more funding for early literacy programs to improve third grade reading proficiency. No new significant funding is being directed to early literacy programs despite the state’s third grade reading law. Instead of holding kids back in third grade, why can’t we help lift them up when they are young and developing the skills they need to learn to read?

The At-Risk School Aid program, which has received increases in recent years, is still not fully funded, and Kids Count data show that children are being held back from academic success because of their economic situation, inadequate housing, poor nutrition and struggling schools. The consequences of this lack of funding further threaten children of color, who already face inequities resulting from years of limited opportunities.

We are hopeful that our leaders will reflect on the options they have with this revenue and make the right investments for Michigan.”

For more information, see the League’s budget briefs on childhood poverty and education. The League has additional recommendations here.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

League testifies against bill to strip Medicaid from struggling Michiganders, shares real story

For Immediate Release
May 2, 2018

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517-487-5436

House Appropriations Committee takes up SB 897 but delays vote

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the Michigan House Appropriations Committee’s hearing today on Senate Bill 897 that would take vital coverage away from Medicaid beneficiaries who don’t meet rigid work requirements. The committee could vote on the legislation as early as next week. The statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs, who also provided testimony at today’s hearing.

“As I sat before nearly 30 lawmakers today, I offered something that should resonate with every single one of them on why taking away Medicaid from people who are unable to work is a bad idea. The League and our partners have appealed to legislators’ brains, their pocketbooks—or the state’s—and their hearts, sharing myriad data and evidence that shows Medicaid is a work support, analyses that it will come with significant costs, and real stories from real people on how it will hurt struggling residents. The House Fiscal Agency analysis shows the bill would cause 105,000 struggling Michiganders to lose coverage—and that’s not something to celebrate. This bill will increase uncompensated care costs and the program will cost the state $20-$30 million annually. And it will hurt a majority of Michiganders that it claims it will help. The House seems to be following the Senate’s lead in rushing through this bill before truly understanding its consequences, but without a vote today, we still have time to change their minds.”

As part of her testimony today, Jacobs shared a personal story from Karen Schultz Tarnopol, an Oakland County resident who attested firsthand to the value of Medicaid and the threat of this bill. An excerpt of Karen’s story is included below.

“I was a single parent of two kids with a very good job…In 2008, when the market crashed…I lost my job with no notice, severance, insurance, etc. I spent many years trying to reestablish myself and had many jobs along the way. Because my work wasn’t consistent and/or for the same employer all the time, it would have been an arduous task to report a running 29-hour a week schedule to DHS [now the Department of Health and Human Services].

“While my kids and I were on Medicaid, something I signed up for reluctantly due to stupid pride, my son had open heart surgery and I had breast cancer. Medicaid paid every dime for both of us. As a mother, I was able to concentrate on caring for my sick son, and when I was undergoing treatment, I was not financially burdened with the medical bills and was able to focus on getting well and caring for my kids. Do not underestimate the significance of having good health care. If we didn’t have this insurance our story would have been significantly altered. Being on Medicaid and food stamps is not something I wanted to be on, and we are no longer on either program, but it made all the difference in the world when I needed it.”

The following groups opposed Senate Bill 897 in committee today: Center for Civil Justice; Michigan Protection and Advocacy Services; National Association of Social Workers – Michigan Chapter; American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network; American Lung Association; Washtenaw Health Plan; The Arc Michigan; Michigan Health & Hospital Association; American Heart Association; Ascension Health; Michigan Council for Maternal & Child Health; Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; United Way for Southeastern Michigan; Elder Law & Disability Rights Section – State Bar of Michigan; ACCESS; American Diabetes Association; McLaren Health Plan; Henry Ford Health System; Michigan Community Action; Michigan Catholic Conference; Trinity Healthy; Planned Parenthood.

Background:

From the Michigan League for Public Policy:

Blog: Is the Legislature even listening? (Includes excerpts of five personal stories.)

Fact Sheet: SB 897: Medicaid work requirements

Report: Medicaid Work Requirements: Why Making People Work Doesn’t Work

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

Report: Michigan Medicaid Proposal Would Lead to Large Coverage Losses, Harm Low-Income Workers

Blog: Michigan’s Medicaid Proposal Would Harm Low-Income Workers — And Can’t Be Fixed

From the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, and Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan:

Column: Medicaid work bill could hurt, not help, people who want to work

Column: Beware of unintended consequences of Michigan Medicaid work demand

Fact Sheet: Proposed Work Requirements for Medicaid in Michigan

From ACCESS and the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition:

Column: Protect Healthy Michigan as is

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Senate committee passes unnecessary attack on healthcare for struggling Michigan residents: Medicaid work requirements stand to be complicated, costly and illegal

For Immediate Release
April 18, 2018

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517-487-5436

Medicaid work requirements stand to be complicated, costly and illegal

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the Senate Michigan Competitiveness Committee’s party-line passage today of Senate Bill 897 to implement work requirements for Michigan’s Medicaid enrollees. The statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs, who also testified in opposition to the bill on March 21.

“After President Donald Trump and the Centers on Medicaid and Medicare Services opened the door on Medicaid work requirements, some Michigan lawmakers are unfortunately scrambling to run through it. In doing so, legislators are blatantly violating the intent of Medicaid to provide healthcare for people with low incomes, an intent that has been upheld for more than 50 years, and ignoring the fact that most of Michigan’s Medicaid population is already working. Those that aren’t working are largely students, caretakers, seniors, people with disabilities or other people that are unable to work. The only thing about this bill that makes Michigan ‘competitive’ is that it’s racing other states to the courtroom and leaving residents in need behind.

“This effort needs less political rhetoric and more data and logic. Evidence shows that work requirements rarely lead to long-term employment—especially not employment that would raise someone out of poverty. In moving forward on this bill today, Republican lawmakers ignored data that work requirements are harmful to recipients and our state departments.

“And they ignored the people that they were sent to Lansing to represent. They disregarded the large group of advocates voicing strong opposition and what this would really mean to students, cancer patients and others struggling with illness, and our economy. They dismissed the hundreds of concerned residents that have reached out to their legislators in the last month to oppose this bill. And they wrote off all of the people who have contacted our office to express their fears about this bill and how it will turn their lives upside down. These are people who have Medicaid for a variety of reasons, from having had tragic accidents that have left them homebound to having temporarily low incomes due to unexpected life changes. These are real Michiganders who are scared of losing access to the healthcare they so badly need. They’re struggling every day, yet some lawmakers want to make that struggle even more difficult.

“By passing work requirements that will likely require burdensome paperwork for many Michigan Medicaid recipients, lawmakers are not only placing complicated ‘big government’ bureaucracy on Medicaid enrollees, but on small business owners, doctors and medical professionals and state caseworkers as well. And they are disregarding the problems already being encountered by other states like Kentucky, including outrageous costs to state and federal government and significant legal challenges. The League is all for helping people find and keep jobs, but Medicaid is keeping people healthy and able to work, not enabling residents to avoid it. This bill shouldn’t have even passed out of committee, but now that it has, it’s up to the Senate leadership and members to stand up for their constituents and stop it.”

The League recently issued a report, Medicaid work requirements: Why making people work doesn’t work, that outlined a number of issues with proposed Medicaid work requirements and sought to stop the flawed plan before it started. As the bill moves forward, these major concerns remain:

  • Exemptions will be hard to get with narrow definitions and difficulty obtaining medical records and other documents.
  • Lost healthcare coverage and burdensome bureaucracy for recipients, including complex paperwork for exemptions and coverage “lockouts” for noncompliance.
  • Legality. In Kentucky, a lawsuit has already been filed in response to the recent approval of the Kentucky Medicaid waiver to enforce work requirements (Stewart v. Azar).
  • High cost. Cost estimates for Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky are nearly $187 million for the first six months. In Tennessee, they are expected to cost $18.7 million a year. While federal funding is expected to largely cover the initial costs, states will eventually have to foot the bill, and that’s money that will be taken away from what Michiganders really need: good schools, safer roads, and better job training.
  • Savings at expense of lost coverage. Kentucky expects the implementation of work requirements and other reforms will save the state over $2 billion dollars, but much of that will likely come from people losing their coverage.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Locked up, held back and left behind: 2018 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book outlines policy changes needed to better serve all kids, reduce disparities

For Immediate Release 
April 17, 2018

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Michigan kids facing increased rate of abuse and neglect, high poverty, unstable family employment and significant academic challenges

LANSING—A majority of child well-being indicators have stagnated or worsened statewide since 2010, with widening disparities by race, ethnicity and income, according to the 2018 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book released today by the Michigan League for Public Policy.

The 2018 data book outlined raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years old as a top policy change to better serve Michigan kids. Michigan is one of only five states yet to do so, and a bipartisan package of bills to change the law has already been introduced and is awaiting action. Youth who are charged in the adult system do not receive adequate education or age-appropriate treatment and services. Kids housed in adult correctional facilities face a higher risk of being physically or sexually assaulted, and are much more likely to recidivate or commit more violent offenses than youth served by the juvenile justice system.

“By passing the ‘raise the age’ bills, lawmakers could make a difference in improving the lives of Michigan’s kids and bettering our state,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director. “Regardless of their offense, 17-year-olds in our state are being punished for a lifetime, facing traumatic experiences, getting a criminal record and missing out on education and rehabilitation services. However, with age-appropriate treatment, many will have the opportunity to be productive and help strengthen their communities.”

The report reveals that poverty and other economic strains remain a significant problem for Michigan kids, especially kids of color. While the rate of child poverty in Michigan has improved by 11.5 percent since 2010, more than 1 in 5 kids in Michigan—including 42 percent of African-American kids and 30 percent of Latinx kids—still lived in poverty in 2016. Additionally, 31 percent of children in Michigan lived in families without year-round, full-time employment.

“The 2018 Kids Count Data Book provides an important counterpoint to the conversation on Michigan’s economic recovery,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO for the Michigan League for Public Policy. “While poverty has dropped slightly, it’s still affecting nearly half of all African-American kids, and nearly a third of all Michigan kids don’t have any family member steadily working. As lawmakers work on the budget over the next few months, they must place a greater emphasis on supporting struggling families and their kids.”

Economic and academic struggles go hand-in-hand for many Michigan kids. Michigan ranks in the bottom ten 10 nationally in education for kids with many disparate outcomes for students of color and students in families with low incomes. Nearly 53 percent of the state’s 3- and 4-year-olds are not in preschool. About 56 percent of the state’s third-graders are not proficient in reading, including about 70 percent of kids of color compared to 48 percent of White third-graders.

These problems persist as kids age, with 65 percent of Michigan’s students not being career- and college-ready. Significant disparities exist by race/ethnicity and family income: 84 percent of students from families with low incomes do not meet the readiness benchmarks compared to 16 percent of students from higher income families. Policymakers need to think strategically to improve education outcomes.

“As a Flint resident, a policy advocate and the head of an organization committed to improving literacy in my community, I appreciate the importance of Kids Count’s data, analysis and policy recommendations,” said Ja’Nel Jamerson, Executive Director of the Flint and Genesee Literacy Network and a board member of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “We know that kids’ reading skills are influenced by a variety of factors. By analyzing data in all the significant aspects of a child’s life, the Kids Count book enables state and federal policymakers and local organizations like ours to see what’s working for our kids, and what barriers they’re facing and how we can break them down.”

With the disastrous Flint water crisis that exposed thousands of kids to lead, Kids Count has placed a greater emphasis on tracking child well-being in Flint, creating a profile for the city for the second year in a row. This is in addition to the Genesee County profile that has been created each year. The Michigan League for Public Policy has also been actively working on community engagement and advocacy in the Flint area to help provide residents with the data and tools to influence and improve public policy.

Since 1992, the Michigan League for Public Policy has been compiling and releasing the annual Kids Count in Michigan Data Book to analyze and evaluate the well-being of children in the state. The 2018 book primarily compares data from 2010 to 2016 and analyzes 16 key indicators across four domains. The report also ranks 82 of the 83 counties for overall child well-being (Keweenaw County lacks sufficient data). The top five counties for child well-being in 2018 are Livingston (1st), Ottawa (2nd), Clinton (2nd), Oakland (4th), and Washtenaw (5th). The bottom five counties in 2018 are Lake (82nd), Clare (81st), Muskegon (80th), Calhoun (79th), and Oceana (78th).

For additional information on the 2018 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book, including the full report, state, county and regional rankings, charts and images, resources for advocates, and county-specific profiles and press releases for 82 counties, go to www.mlpp.org/kids-count/michigan-2/2018-kids-count-in-michigan-data-book.

Key policy recommendations:

  • “Raise the Age” of juvenile jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years old.
  • Strengthen policies that support work, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Allowing families to keep more of what they earn improves educational and health outcomes for kids.
  • Ensure access to affordable, high-quality child care.
  • Expand home visitation programs to help provide additional support to families, remove barriers that prevent access to prenatal care, and reduce risk for child abuse and neglect
  • Provide sufficient funding for early interventions to improve third-grade reading using a birth-to-8 framework and adequately fund public schools, targeting resources in high-need areas and fully funding the At-Risk program.

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The Kids Count in Michigan project is part of a broad national effort to improve conditions for children and their families. Funding for the project is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Frey Foundation, Michigan Education Association, American Federation of Teachers Michigan, Ruth Mott Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, DTE Energy Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, and the Battle Creek Community Foundation. More state and local data are available at the Kids Count Data Center, www.datacenter.kidscount.org.

 

New report warns against problematic Medicaid work requirements

For Immediate Release 
March 7, 2018

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Analysis shows why Michigan Legislature should abandon pursuit of ineffective, expensive and potentially illegal policy

LANSING—After getting the green light from the federal government, 10 states are pursuing Medicaid work requirements and Michigan could be next. But a new report released by the Michigan League for Public Policy today, Medicaid work requirements: Why making people work doesn’t work, reveals that Michigan lawmakers should think twice before pursuing the costly and risky policy.

Enacted in 1965, Medicaid was created to give people with low incomes health insurance and to improve their health. Nowhere in the Medicaid statute does it say that work could and can be used as a determination of eligibility—a basis supported by every previous presidential administration in five decades since. But President Donald Trump and his federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) directors have changed course.

Some Michigan legislators are looking to capitalize on the opportunity to pursue Medicaid work requirements, and a bill has already been introduced in the House of Representatives, HB 5317. This move could complicate and even eliminate life-saving healthcare for over two million Michiganders on Medicaid, including the 675,000-plus that are enrolled in the state’s Medicaid expansion program for residents with low incomes, the Healthy Michigan Plan.

“Michigan legislators must look at the human and financial costs of attempting to implement work requirements, especially with the growing data and information that shows they are likely to cause more harm than good,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO for the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Medicaid work requirements will likely come with a hefty price tag to both the state and federal government, and with major questions about legality, they are more likely to be settled with a gavel in a courtroom than a gavel in the Capitol.”

Most Medicaid enrollees in Michigan are already working. In a study by the University of Michigan of those enrolled in Michigan’s Medicaid expansion program, Healthy Michigan, 48.8 percent of respondents said they were employed. Additionally, 27.6 percent of enrollees were out of work, with many stating poor health status, chronic illness or mental illness as their reason for not having work. The rest of those surveyed who were not working stated they were unable to work due to fair or poor health (11.3%), or because they were retired (2.5%), students (5.2%) or homemakers (4.5%).

Other studies related to Medicaid employment nationwide show that 6 out of 10 nonelderly Medicaid enrollees are working and 8 out of 10 Medicaid enrollees live in a household where someone is working. Similar to the study done in Michigan, those who are not working state that disability, caregiving responsibilities or going to school are the reasons they are not.

“Too often we see politicians burdening Michiganders in need with harsh requirements and confusing red tape,” Jacobs said. “It would be more productive for Michigan lawmakers to invest in job training and continued support for Medicaid and other assistance programs, without which many Michiganders would lose access to valuable health coverage that allows them to work and provide for their families.

What’s wrong with Medicaid work requirements? A lot. Here are some of the primary concerns outlined in the report:

Exemptions will be hard to get. Narrow definitions and the difficulty of obtaining medical records and other documents will create additional problems for recipients, healthcare providers and Medicaid offices.

Lost healthcare coverage and burdensome bureaucracy for recipients. Complex paperwork for exemptions, coverage “lockouts” for noncompliance and additional requirements for employers add layers of complication to the program.

Legality. In Kentucky, a lawsuit has already been filed in response to the recent approval of the Kentucky Medicaid waiver to enforce work requirements (Stewart v. Azar).

High cost. Cost estimates for Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky are nearly $187 million for the first six months. In Tennessee, they are expected to cost $18.7 million a year. (Federal funding is expected to largely cover the cost.) The savings states are hoping to reap will largely come from people losing their coverage.

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Additional Resources:

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: A Medicaid Work Requirement Would Block Poor Families from Care

Kaiser Family Foundation: Understanding the Intersection of Medicaid and Work

Health Affairs: Myths About the Medicaid Expansion and the ‘Able-Bodied’

New York Times: The Adults a Medicaid Work Requirement Would Leave Behind

The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Calling all kids: Michigan Kids Count project holding first-ever open call for photos

For Immediate Release 
February 23, 2018

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Deadline for submissions is March 20, 2018

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy’s Kids Count project announced today that it is calling for photographs of a diverse range of kids age 0-17 and families from around the state to fill its upcoming 2018 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book. The deadline for submissions is March 20, 2018. Photos can be submitted online at www.mlpp.org/kids-count/share-photos.

“We are very excited to show everyday Michigan children and families in our 2018 Data Book, because they’re the ones we’re fighting for every day,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “We want to pair real faces with real data to better tell the story of how our state’s kids and families are impacted by policy decisions.”

With this call for photos, Kids Count is looking for a broad representation of Michigan’s families, with diversity in age, geography, gender, and race and ethnicity. The project is also hoping to get photos of kids in action and participating in activities to match the Data Book’s main categories of Education, Health and Safety, Economic Security, and Family and Community. Interested families should take a look at the 2017 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book for examples.

There will be no compensation for submissions aside from inclusion in the 2018 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book. Photos must be received by the end of the day March 20, 2018, and submitted by the parent or guardian of the child or children in the photographs. Questions can be emailed to lauramr@mlpp.org.

Since 1992, the Michigan League for Public Policy has been compiling and releasing the annual Kids Count in Michigan Data Book to analyze and evaluate the well-being of children in the state. The report also ranks Michigan counties for overall child well-being.

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About the Kids Count in Michigan Project
The Kids Count in Michigan project is part of a broad national effort to improve conditions for children and their families. Funding for the project is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Frey Foundation, Michigan Education Association, American Federation of Teachers Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, DTE Energy Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, Battle Creek Community Foundation and the Fetzer Institute.

The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Personal exemption increase passed today means drastic cuts to vital services in years ahead

For Immediate Release 
February 14, 2018

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the legislative compromise reached today by Governor Rick Snyder and the House and Senate on bills to increase Michigan’s personal exemption, and the subsequent strain it will have on the state budget. The League also weighed in on another component of the deal—an elimination of the state’s driver responsibility fees. This statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“We were disheartened today to hear that the Legislature and governor have reached an agreement on an increase to the state personal exemption that will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue in the coming years with little benefit to most families. Simply put, the juice is not worth the squeeze on a tax cut right now. Lawmakers are making bad decisions today that will force future legislators to pay for them with significant cuts to the services residents value and rely on. The League will continue to be the voice of fiscal responsibility, and we will keep on advocating for policies—not political ploys—that truly make a difference for struggling Michiganders.

“We hope that today is the last we hear of any tax cut talk and that the League and the Legislature alike can turn our attention to the state budget. It’s just unfortunate that the adverse impact of this tax cut will outlast many of the people responsible for it.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Governor’s budget continues key investments, urges Legislature to abandon risky revenue cuts

For Immediate Release 
February 7, 2018

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Snyder recommends funding for education, roads, public safety, healthcare and more

LANSING—Following Governor Rick Snyder’s 2019 budget presentation, the Michigan League for Public Policy voiced support for his calls for continued investment in vital programs, and echoed his warning against reckless tax cuts by the Legislature. The League also called for a solution to Michigan’s ongoing revenue problem, and urged action on its own budget priorities as ways the Legislature can have a more significant impact on state residents’ well-being than a tax cut.

“There were a lot of great proposals in the governor’s budget today, including new and first-time funding for Early On, efforts to increase the existing low level of Family Independence Program cash assistance, and continued investments to support Michigan’s kids and families through ‘heat and eat,’ the Healthy Michigan Plan, lead pipe replacement in Flint, roads and public safety,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “These are all longstanding priorities for the League and we appreciate the governor’s recognition that they are key to a better Michigan for everyone. But these very items could be first on the chopping block for the Legislature as they seek to reconcile hundreds of millions of dollars in ineffective and unaffordable tax cuts that give very little money back to most taxpayers.”

While the governor’s budget contained many positives today, there weren’t a lot of dramatic funding increases, because the money is simply not there as a result of previous policy decisions. The major tax cuts passed over the past several years have put Michigan’s budget in an untenable situation where we are unable to make significant investments in all of the things that state residents, businesses and communities depend on. League budget experts continue to sound the alarm on the decline in the purchasing power of the state’s General Fund—which is now estimated to be nearly 6 percent lower than the level in 1968 when adjusted for inflation.

“Michigan has a revenue problem, and has for decades. Lawmakers are still budgeting like it’s 1968,” Jacobs said. “The Legislature is still trying to make Michigan competitive with other states while picking the wrong role models. The Legislature is still underinvesting in nearly everything kids, families, workers and businesses depend on. And disregarding past mistakes, the Legislature is still looking to cut taxes when they should be raising revenue.”

As the budget process gets officially underway today, the League continues to outline its own budget priorities and 15 related policy recommendations. A recent poll from EPIC-MRA showed that the League’s priorities are Michigan voters’ priorities, and resonate much more than “Keeping state and local income taxes low,” an important point with the state budget’s current revenue constraints.

“We don’t work in a vacuum and we know that calling for new investments in our current fiscal climate is bold. But our budget priorities are optimistic and aspirational—here are 15 things we think would better serve the people of Michigan than a tax cut,” Jacobs said.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

League CEO Gilda Jacobs applauds governor’s stance against tax cuts, urges investment for a better Michigan for all

For Immediate Release
January 23, 2018

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
C: 517-775-9053

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on Governor Rick Snyder’s 2018 State of the State address. Potential tax cuts and budget strains, the future of the Affordable Care Act and the Healthy Michigan Plan, the Flint water crisis and other infrastructure challenges, education, unemployment, poverty and talent retention are all major issues for the League. The statement can be attributed to Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

“We appreciate Governor Snyder using his final State of the State address tonight to push back on irresponsible efforts in the Legislature to cut taxes without replacement revenue. Everything positive he has accomplished for the state, everything he has tried to do to make up for his mistakes, and everything he hopes to achieve in his final year is in jeopardy due to election-year decisions by the Legislature and Congress. All of these efforts require investment, and without it, his legacy could start disappearing before he’s even out of office.

“You can’t attract and retain talent without investing in our kids, our schools, our workers, our communities and our roads, bridges and water systems. Yet the Legislature sitting before him tonight is already planning to pass tax cuts that could cost the state budget in excess of $200 million annually. Some elected officials are talking about wanting to cut taxes even more with a state income tax roll back, further hampering our essential state services. And our state could be further compromised by the new federal tax plan and impending changes to the Healthy Michigan Plan and federal safety net programs state residents and the state budget depend on.

“Finally, while Michigan has recovered for some, many residents are still struggling. They may have jobs, but they’re still living in poverty. Our schools and our students are still woefully behind, ranking in the bottom ten nationally. Our roads, bridges and water systems are still falling apart. Lead is still a threat in Flint and around the state. And dramatic racial disparities continue to exist, as Michigan ranks worst in the nation for African-American child well-being. This is the Michigan no one is talking about, and the Michigan we will continue to get if state lawmakers continue to cut. We need a better state for all, not just some, and that’s going to require leadership by the governor and action by the Legislature.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

House and Senate personal exemption increases have too high a price tag for state budget

For Immediate Release 
January 17, 2018

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

The League continues support of Governor Snyder’s plan, opposes any hit to funds for roads, schools and public safety

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on competing House and Senate bills (HB 5420 and SB 748) to increase Michigan’s personal exemption. Initially proposed to counter state income tax increases related to the hastily-passed federal tax plan, the increases to the exemption proposed this week pose a threat to an already-strained state budget and all that it supports in residents’ daily lives. This statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“The League continues to support the governor’s proposal, which would clarify that the personal exemption is still in place and would increase it to $4,500 in 2021—a move that is universal in its benefits to taxpayers and neutral in its budget impact. Other proposals in the House and Senate would create deep revenue losses that would likely lead to cuts to the schools our kids attend, the roads we drive on, the police officers and firefighters that keep our communities safe, and more.

“Our opposition to these House and Senate bills may not be politically popular, but it is fiscally responsible, a value we have adhered to for more than a century. We speak for all Michigan residents, especially the workers, families and seniors who are struggling the most. These proposals come with a greater cost to the state, our services and our people than individuals stand to gain from these personal exemption increases.

“This situation is further complicated by the fact that we don’t yet understand the fiscal impact of the recent federal tax changes here in Michigan. And because a federal budget has not yet been adopted—and deep cuts to vital programs are likely coming—we don’t know the impact of these changes on Michigan, which relies on about 40 percent of its budget from federal funds.”

League Legislative Coordinator Rachel Richards testified in opposition to HB 5420 this morning. The League also came out in support of Governor Rick Snyder’s initial proposal to restore and moderately increase the state personal exemption.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

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