News Releases

Statement: Minimum wage increase doesn’t go far enough

Contact: Judy Putnam at (517) 410-5798

Approval of minimum wage increase is encouraging but $10.10 an hour proposal deserves vote

The Michigan League for Public Policy released the following statement after the House voted Tuesday to increase the minimum wage to $9.25 by 2018. Gov. Snyder signed the legislation this evening. The statement may be attributed to League President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“The minimum wage increase to $9.25 an hour is greatly needed but it does not go far enough to lift working families from poverty. The legislation would freeze inflationary increases in times of high unemployment and it falls far short on the tipped wage. We need to remember that if minimum wage had kept up with inflation, the 1968 minimum wage of $1.60 an hour would now be $10.90 an hour.

“With enough signatures collected to put this on the fall ballot, voters deserve a chance to have their say on an increase to $10.10 an hour, with a very gradual increase in the tipped wage. The tipped wage increase is critical to working moms in the food industry. Employees who work hard in tough jobs should be able to meet their basic needs, and a raise to $10.10 an hour will go a long way to accomplish that.”


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a state-level policy institute dedicated to economic opportunity for all. It convenes the Prosperity Coalition,

Statement: Minimum wage moving in the right direction — up

 Contact: Judy Putnam at (517) 487-5436

Statement: Senate moves minimum wage in the right direction – up

The following statement was issued by the Michigan League for Public Policy in reaction to the Senate passage today of a revised minimum wage bill that increases the minimum wage from $7.40 to $9.20 by 2017 and increases the tipped wage from $2.65 an hour to $3.65. Both will have future inflationary increases. The statement may be attributed to League President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“The Senate-passed increase in the minimum wage is moving in the right direction – up. It’s a far better bill than the original but it does not go far enough.

“The tipped wage in particular remains a concern. Many food service workers, the majority of them women, are unable to support themselves and their families on their earnings. Those who work hard and long hours should be able to meet their basic needs on their wages.’’


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a state-level policy institute dedicated to economic opportunity for all. It convenes the Prosperity Coalition,




Statement: Business tax cuts haven’t delivered as promised

Contact: Judy Putnam at (517) 487-5436

Falling revenues deliver failing grade on business tax cuts

The Michigan League for Public Policy released the following statement today on the downward revenue projections from the Revenue Estimating Conference. The Michigan Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder cut business taxes by 83 percent in 2011, while increasing taxes on seniors and low-income working families. The statement may be attributed to Policy Director Karen Holcomb-Merrill.

“The bottom line is that the business tax cuts and other tax changes have not delivered on their promise to stimulate the economy. Michigan needs strong, safe and livable communities and there must be enough revenue for education, health care, public safety and other services needed to make that happen.

“It’s also clear that an income tax rollback would jeopardize the efforts to move past the devastating effects of the Great Recession. Reduced revenues are already threatening Gov. Rick Snyder’s priorities for the Fiscal Year 2015 budget including much-needed increases in K-12 and higher education, expansion of preschool for 4-year-olds, dental care for low-income children and improvements to the state’s mental health system so that those with mental illness or developmental disabilities will be treated in settings other than prison.

“Reducing the income tax would put additional pressure on limited state funds and tie lawmaker’s hands to respond to future recessions.”


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a state-level policy institute dedicated to economic opportunity for all. It convenes the Prosperity Coalition,





Road fix: General Fund well could run dry

Contact: Judy Putnam at 517.487.5436. (After 5 p.m. 517.410.5798)

General Fund for roads: Going to the well too many times will leave it dry

The Michigan League for Public Policy released the following statement in reaction to the plan under consideration today in the House to earmark $369 million in General Funds for road improvements. The statement may be attributed to Policy Director Karen Holcomb-Merrill.

“This plan will strain resources available for other uses such as health care, higher education, public safety, preschool and other vital human services.

“Targeting one-sixth of the use tax – paid by consumers for such items as online clothing sales, motel and hotel stays and catalog purchases — for one specific purpose will mean that fewer dollars are available for other needs. The governor’s budget proposes an expansion of preschool for 4-year-olds and has offered an increase to the state public universities, which have been severely cut over the past decade. The House plan threatens those and other needed investments.

“Also, the plan would tie the hands of future policymakers who would have less flexibility to respond to needs of citizens that grow during a recession. The General Fund is already targeted to be tapped under a plan to restore local government funding if voters agree to end the Personal Property Tax.

“It’s clear that the roads must be fixed yet the long downturn in Michigan has crumbled more than the roads. There are other sources of revenue to use without pitting our roads against other needs. For example, Michigan has not increased its fuel taxes in many years. It’s time to reinvest in our state in the things we need – safe communities, strong families, postsecondary education and job training.’’


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a state-level policy institute dedicated to economic opportunity for all. It convenes the Prosperity Coalition,

My Brother’s Keeper initiative highlighted

Contact: Judy Putnam at (517) 410-5798

Forum underscores need to reduce racial inequities

NOVI, Mich. — A White House official told a gathering Monday that Detroit is part of a listening tour to help develop President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper, an effort aimed at turning around the grim statistics that mark the lives of young African American males.

Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson called upon nonprofits, government and businesses to work toward creating more opportunity for young men of color. He said a report will be given to the president May 28.

“What lies at the core of this initiative is the fundamental American principle that if you work hard and you play by the rules you should have the opportunity to succeed,” Johnson said.

A person’s ability to get ahead “should be determined by that hard work and your ambition and not by the circumstances of your birth,” he said.

Johnson appeared at the Opportunity & Equity Convening in Novi sponsored by the Prosperity Coalition and the Michigan League for Public Policy. It was part of daylong effort focusing on strategies to reduce racial inequities.

Keynote speaker Pedro Noguera, a national leader on urban education reform and a New York University professor of education, said racial inequities are a problem for all of us.

“This is not a black male problem. It’s an American problem,” he said.

Noguera called upon parents, schools and communities to offer kids what they need to learn, rather than make kids learn the way schools are designed to teach them.

He cited disciplinary rules that suspend children for skipping school as a symptom of practices that deny kids the education they need.

“We need to be sure we’re doing what makes sense,” Noguera said, adding that the underlying problems of the child must be addressed. The solution is “more education, not less.”

A panel earlier in the day outlined some of the problems facing Michigan:

  • Michigan’s education scores trail most states and that of many developing nations.
  • African American kids in Michigan are the least likely to live in higher-income neighborhoods than in any state in the country.
  • Michigan scored similar to Mississippi on an opportunity index for African American kids on a recent Annie E. Casey Foundation report.

Michigan League for Public Policy President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs said the gathering underscores the need for action.

“We’ve got to make some changes fast if we’re going to really compete with other states and make ourselves successful,” she said.

Reversing Michigan’s deep higher ed cuts

Contact: Judy Putnam or Karen Holcomb-Merrill at (517) 487-5436

Michigan cuts to higher education among worst in country
Shortchanging universities reduces access to higher education, hurts economy

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan has cut funding to public universities and colleges deeper than 37 other states since the start of the Great Recession, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  As a result, tuition has risen dramatically, making it harder for many to go to college and for the state to attract businesses that rely on a well-educated workforce.

While per-student funding increased modestly, (4.8 percent), over the past year, Michigan cut funding for higher education overall by 28 percent since 2008, according to the report. That’s a decrease of $1,631 per student, when adjusted for inflation. Meanwhile, the average tuition at a public, four-year college in Michigan shot up by 21.5 percent or $2,050 — the 16th largest tuition increase in the country.

“Michigan needs more highly educated workers to draw employers who pay competitive wages. Their workers will spend those wages in the community, boosting the economy of the entire area,’’ said Karen Holcomb-Merrill, policy director at the Michigan League for Public Policy, which helped release the report. “Smart investments in public colleges and universities will help Michigan’s economy. That’s what our state needs.’’

When the recession hit in 2008 and tax revenue dropped, Michigan, like most states, relied heavily on spending cuts. Michigan is now among just six states asking students and families to shoulder higher education costs (vs. state support) by a ratio of at least 2-to-1, the report found.

In 2013-14, Michigan increased state funding by $190 per full-time student. While that’s a positive step, the report finds that 32 other states increased their per-student spending more.

Nationwide, states are spending 23 percent less than they did in 2008 on higher education, and tuition is up 28 percent. As a result, public colleges and universities nationwide cut faculty positions, eliminated course offerings, closed campuses, shut down computer labs, and reduced library services.

In Michigan, tuition is now the sixth-highest in the country and needs-based financial aid has suffered, particularly for students over 30 years old. Due to the elimination of several grant programs in 2009, no existing grant programs serve this purpose.

To reverse these trends, Michigan needs to make higher education a priority.  A large and growing share of jobs will require college-educated workers, and the only way to make sure Michigan students are prepared is to keep higher education affordable. The state is moving in the right direction in requiring universities to limit annual tuition increases to 3.2 percent in order to receive all or part of their funding increases.

In order to make sure Michigan has enough money to fund higher education adequately, lawmakers must reject income tax rollbacks that have been introduced this session. They should also tread lightly in using General Fund dollars to repair Michigan’s battered roads as other sources of revenue (fuel taxes) are available.

“More jobs in the future will require college-educated workers,” said Michael Mitchell, policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and author of the report. “For the sake of its economy and future workforce, Michigan should start reinvesting in its colleges and universities now.”


 The Center’s full report can be found at:


Media Advisory: Pedro Noguera on race equity and education

Contact: Danielle Smith,, 313.231.1459, or Judy Putnam,, 517.487.5436

MEDIA ADVISORY: Opportunity & Equity 2014

WHO: Sociologist and NYU Professor Pedro Noguera will speak in Novi from 1:10-2:30 p.m. Monday, May 5. Noguera, considered a leading national voice in urban school reform, will discuss race equity and education.

WHAT: Michigan League for Public Policy and the Prosperity Coalition will host Opportunity & Equity 2014, a conference that brings together individuals and organizations to explore successful concepts in public policy including education, income inequity, asset building and more.

WHY: Michigan League for Public Policy and the Prosperity Coalition will bring a host of experts in the fields of race equity, education, budget and tax policy and more, to address the fact that each day many people struggle to make ends meet. Additional speakers, including Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press; Shirley Stancato, New Detroit and Dr. Charles Ballard, Michigan State University, will explore strategies to reduce poverty, increase equity and build prosperity.

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, May 5. Registration 8:30 a.m.- 9:30 a.m. For a schedule of events see:

WHERE: Sheraton Detroit Novi Hotel, 21111 Haggerty Road, Novi, MI 48375

Free meals for kids in high-poverty schools


Contact: Justin Rumenapp ( or Marybeth Laisure ( at the Center for Civil Justice, (810) 244-8044 or
Judy Putnam ( at the Michigan League for Public Policy, (517) 487-5436

Schools in low-income areas may offer free breakfast and lunch this fall

FLINT, Mich. – A total of 822 schools located in high-poverty areas have the option to offer school lunches and breakfasts to all students at no charge this fall. The lunches and breakfasts will be offered as part of what is known as the Community Eligibility Provision, or CEP, and the Michigan Department of Education is taking applications through June 30. While the main goal of CEP is to reduce hunger among at-risk student populations, the provision also helps to reduce school paperwork and erase meal debt.

“When schools offer meals to all students, it’s really a benefit to all stakeholders,” said Marybeth Laisure, Center for Civil Justice’s Child Nutrition Director. “Children are better prepared to learn on full stomachs, and teachers report fewer behavioral outbursts.”

Schools are allowed to serve meals under CEP if 40 percent or more of the student population qualifies for other assistance programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps). There are 562 schools buildings currently utilizing the program in Michigan, and the state saw a 10 percent increase in student lunches and breakfasts participation as a result.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Michigan’s eligible schools to make sure the students they serve get enough to eat,’’ said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president & CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Offering free breakfasts and lunches is a win-win for everybody.’’

Thanks to the success of pilot schools in Michigan, eight other states and the District of Columbia, the Community Eligibility Provision is expanding nationwide. All state agencies must publish a list of eligible and near-eligible schools by May 1. Michigan Department of Education’s list of eligible buildings can be found here:


Center for Civil Justice is a non-profit group that monitors changes in public assistance policy and advocates on behalf of low-income clients.

The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization dedicated to economic opportunity for all. It convenes the Prosperity Coalition,

Race for Results

Contact: Judy Putnam or Jane Zehnder-Merrell at (517) 487-5437
Editors: A Michigan summary is available here 

Race for Results: Michigan’s largest racial/ethnic groups fall below national average in child well-being

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan’s future prosperity is linked to how well we prepare the state’s current generation of children for the jobs of the 21st century. A new KIDS COUNT® report shows that Michigan has a long way to go to eliminate barriers for children, particularly African American kids, to accomplish that goal.

Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation today, for the first time uses an index based on 12 key milestones and conditions for children across racial and ethnic groups for the nation and the states.

“These results show starkly different conditions in our state for children of different races and places,’’ said Jane Zehnder-Merrell, director of the Kids Count in Michigan project at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Our state and local policymakers must focus on strategies to increase opportunities for families with children in all racial/ethnic groups to have better outcomes and conditions.”

Michigan had the third lowest state score (244) in the nation for the overall well-being of African-American children —only one point better than Mississippi (243). (Wisconsin had the worst score: 238.) The stakes are high as one of every six children in Michigan is African American.

Overall, the index shows that at the national level, no one racial group has all children meeting all milestones. Using a scale of one (lowest) to 1,000 (highest), nationally Asian and Pacific Islander children have the highest index score at 776 followed by white children at 704. Scores for Latino (404), American-Indian (387) and African American (345) children are distressingly lower.

Similar to the national results, Michigan’s Asian children scored the highest (787), followed by whites (668), American Indians (501), Hispanic/Latinos (411) and African Americans (244). The indices for Asian, American Indian and Hispanic/Latinos in Michigan were better than those of their national counterparts.

The overall well-being of Asian and white children in Michigan was roughly triple that of African American children, but that of white children fell slightly below their national counterparts by six points. More distressing was the 100-point shortfall for conditions facing the state’s African American children compared with their national counterparts.

Some of the suggested strategies to improve economic outcomes/conditions for Michigan families with children include:

• Reinstate the state Earned Income Tax Credit at 20% of the federal EITC
• Increase the child care subsidy amount and eligibility level to assure access to high-quality care
• Raise the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour (from $7.40)

The index measures success at each stage of childhood, as well as the economic and social context for children’s lives from birth to adulthood. The indicators were grounded in the goal that all children should grow up in economically successful families, live in supportive communities and meet developmental, health and educational milestones. To compare results across the areas in the index, the indicators are grouped into four areas: early childhood; education and early work; family supports; and neighborhood context.

The report demonstrates how much state averages mask the dramatically different outcomes and conditions experienced by children of diverse races/ethnicity. For example, the state average hardly
varied from the national average on almost all indicators.

In contrast, eight of the 12 outcomes and conditions for the state’s African American children were substantially worse than those of their national counterparts. Of most concern, the percentage of the state’s African American children living in low-poverty neighborhoods (poverty rates less than 20%) were the worst in the nation: 30 percentage points below the national average—worse than Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Opportunities for Michigan’s white children were ranked 34th among the 50 states (with No. 1 the best) with scores falling behind their national counterparts in many key areas:

• Percent fourth graders proficient in reading
• Percent eighth graders proficient in math
• Young adults ages 25-29 with an associate’s degree or more
• Children living above 200% of the federal poverty level (roughly $37,000 for a family of three and $47,000 for a family of four)

The three indicators where at least three racial/ethnic groups in the state compared poorly with the national average were all in the area of education:

• Percent fourth graders proficient in reading
• Percent eighth graders proficient in math
• High school students graduating on time

On the other hand, children in three of Michigan’s racial/ethnic groups were more likely to live with a householder who had at least a high school diploma than their national counterparts.

# # #

The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit

For more information: KIDS COUNT Data Center, which is home to comprehensive national, state and local statistics on child well-being. KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization dedicated to economic opportunity for all. It convenes the Prosperity Coalition,

Statement: Healthy Michigan Plan launch

Statement: Great news for Michigan’s uninsured with launch of Healthy Michigan Plan

Contact: Judy Putnam at (517) 487-5436 or

The following statement by Michigan League for Public Policy President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs is in reaction to the Department of Community Health’s announcement that Healthy Michigan Plan enrollment will begin April 1.

“The April 1 launch of the Healthy Michigan Plan is fantastic news for the many uninsured in Michigan. Moving ahead with an expanded Medicaid program in Michigan will wisely use available federal dollars to improve health in our state. It will make sure parents and single adults get the health care they need to be productive workers and citizens.”

For more information, see a new League fact sheet.


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonpartisan state-level policy institute dedicated to economic opportunity for all. It convenes the Prosperity Coalition, 

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