News Releases

Statement: League encouraged by governor’s proposal to remove lead service lines statewide

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING —The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on Governor Rick Snyder’s proposal today to replace all lead service lines from the state’s public water systems. The League has been focused on the Flint water crisis and the policy solutions to help that community and prevent a similar disaster elsewhere. This included analysis on the state’s failing infrastructure—including the need to replace lead pipes, the broader issue of lead poisoning and the many health stressors low-income kids face. The statement may be attributed to League President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“The Flint water crisis should never have happened, but some good policy and infrastructure changes can come of it, including shining a light on the fact that residents in nearly every community in Michigan are still drinking water from dangerous and outdated lead pipes. We applaud the governor’s proposal to replace all of Michigan’s lead service pipes, and hope the Legislature shares this comprehensive, proactive approach. We also urge this statewide commitment to continue in addressing housing-related lead exposure and abatement issues, improving all health supports for low-income families and increasing revenue sharing for local communities.”

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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.

Michigan League for Public Policy pushes for education funding priorities as budget negotiations begin

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Lansing, Mich.—The Michigan League for Public Policy called for action today on funding in the 2017 state budget for child care, at-risk students and adult education as the Michigan Legislature prepares to take up budget legislation this week. The League sees these as key issues for improving kids’ education outcomes and workers’ economic standing, and a way to immediately address the challenges families in Flint and Detroit are facing.

“If the Legislature is looking to use the budget to help people and improve the state economy, increasing funding for students at risk, adult education and child care is the way to do that,” said Gilda Jacobs, president & CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “For toddlers whose brains are at peak development and students facing hardship at home and at school to adults who face employment and earnings barriers because of a lack of education, investing in these programs will benefit generations and lift families out of poverty.”

The League’s state budget priorities are outlined in a series of budget briefs, and additional updates will be added to the website as the budget progresses. The education budget recommendations to lawmakers include:

  • Support expanded child care funding for young children in Flint;
  • Increase income eligibility for child care assistance to at least 150% of poverty;
  • Invest $10 million in adult education funding to enable 8,000 more students to be served;
  • Only expand adult education eligibility to individuals under 20 years old if additional funding is provided to cover them.
  • Fully fund the state’s At-Risk School Aid program and expand eligibility to all districts.

The child poverty rate has increased in the state by 23 percent since 2006, with nearly 1 in every 4 children in Michigan living in poverty (22.6 percent). Child poverty is even higher for kids of color (47 percent for African-Americans and 32 percent for Hispanics compared to 16 percent for White kids).

Children living in poverty often require additional services and resources, which come at a greater cost to their schools. While Michigan’s At-Risk School Aid program is designed to address that and better serve low-income kids, it has only been fully funded for two years out of the last two decades, resulting in a cumulative shortfall of nearly $2 billion.

“The Kids Count in Michigan Data Book released last month showed that too many kids are living in poverty, and that it affects their education, their health and their future,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the League. “Kids of color face continued barriers to opportunity and economic stability, especially in Flint and Detroit right now, and policymakers can and should address this by investing in these programs to help workers, schools, parents and kids.”

In Michigan, 2 of every 3 young children now have all parents in the workforce, making child care essential to many families. At the same time, child care costs are hurting all families—especially those making low wages. A family of four living at the state median wage must dedicate more than 20 percent of its income to place two children in a child care center. On average, monthly child care consumed almost 40 percent of 2015 minimum wage earnings, and at poverty-level wages, over 80 percent of a family’s income would be consumed by child care.

Despite rising child care costs for parents, child care providers are some of the lowest-paid workers in the state. Child care workers had median wages of only $8.73/hour in Michigan in 2013, and their earnings are so low nationwide that almost half receive some form of public assistance.

Over 221,500 Michigan adults age 25-44 lack a high school diploma or GED, yet fewer than 7% are enrolled in adult education. At the same time, Michigan has greatly reduced its funding for adult education over the past 15 years, down as much as $60 million a year.

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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.

Child poverty increases in 80 of 83 Michigan counties, hurts child well-being

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Lawmakers need to fix harmful policies that are failing kids

LANSING—Child poverty went up in 80 of 83 Michigan counties since 2006 and leads to struggles in every other area of a child’s life, the Kids Count in Michigan Data Book 2016 released today by the Michigan League for Public Policy shows. The report outlines policy recommendations for legislators to help low-income kids and children of color and their families, a need that has been magnified by the recent crises with Flint’s water and Detroit Public Schools.

The report shows all three measures of economic security worsened significantly over the trend period (2006-2014), including a 23 percent rate increase in child poverty statewide. The rate of child abuse and neglect also rose, up 29 percent statewide and increasing in most Michigan counties compared to 2006. Research shows that poverty has a detrimental impact on Michigan kids’ health—from lead exposure and asthma to low birthweight and infant mortality, education performance and graduation rates, and future employment and economic security.

“We think all kids count—no matter where they live, their racial or ethnic background, or their family income—but do the elected officials charged with supporting their well-being share that priority?” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “This book is not meant to be simply a reporting tool, but a catalyst for action. If legislators are truly concerned with child well-being, they have to address income and racial disparities, and invest in proven two-generation strategies that help kids by helping their parents.”

Some of the Kids Count in Michigan Data Book’s key recommendations to policymakers on supporting parents and improving child well-being are:

  • Invest in communities to create safe neighborhoods, clean air and water, quality schools and adequate police and fire services;
  • Strengthen policies that support work, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, earned paid sick leave and workforce development opportunities;
  • Promote comprehensive strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect, including providing mental health and substance abuse services for parents;
  • Ensure access to affordable, quality child care; and
  • Adequately fund public schools, targeting resources in high-need areas and providing early interventions and services.

“The Michigan League for Public Policy has been producing the Kids Count report for 25 years, but low-income kids are still struggling, and the repercussions touch every part of their lives,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “The Flint water crisis and the horrendous conditions in Detroit Public Schools show just how low a priority protecting kids has become. Lawmakers have a responsibility to protect Michigan kids, and with this book, we provide the information and recommendations for how they can do that.”

The Michigan League for Public Policy has been compiling and releasing the annual Kids Count in Michigan Data Book for 25 years to analyze and evaluate the well-being of children in the state. The 2016 book primarily compares data from 2006 to 2014 and analyzes 16 key indicators across four domains: 1) economic security; 2) health and safety; 3) family and community; and 4) education. The overall child well-being rank is based on a county’s rank in each of the 16 measures.

Some of the most startling statewide takeaways from the Kids Count in Michigan Data Book 2016 (comparing 2006 to 2014) are:

  • Nearly 1 in every 4 children in Michigan live in poverty (22.6 percent)—a 23 percent increase in the rate over 2006 and 2014. Child poverty is even higher for kids of color (47 percent for African-Americans and 32 percent for Hispanics compared to 16 percent for White kids);
  • The rate of children living in families investigated for child abuse and neglect increased by 52 percent and the rate of confirmed victims rose by 29 percent;
  • 32 percent of children live in a household where no parent has secure employment;
  • 67 percent of young children (ages 0-5) had both parents in the workforce;
  • On average, monthly child care consumed almost 40 percent of 2015 minimum wage earnings; and
  • 17 percent of children in Michigan live in high-poverty neighborhoods (only seven states have a higher rate), including 18 percent of American Indian, 55 percent of African-American and 30 percent of Latino children.

Of the 12 trends in Michigan child well-being with enough data to analyze in the 2016 report, six improved, five worsened, and one stayed the same. The report also ranks 82 of the 83 counties for overall child well-being (Keweenaw County lacks sufficient data). The top and bottom three from last year are nearly the same as in 2016. This year’s best counties are Livingston (1st), Ottawa (2nd) and Clinton (3rd). The worst counties are Lake (82nd), Clare (81st) and Muskegon (80th). Other notable county rankings were Calhoun (69th), Ingham (39th), Kalamazoo (44th) and Wayne (66th).

Don Wotruba, executive director of the Michigan Association of School Boards, noted the need to invest in Michigan schools and work with kids and families early on to set them up for success.

“As we’re seeing with Detroit Public Schools at this very moment, greater investment in education is needed to prevent our schools from struggling and our students from suffering,” Wotruba said. “Lawmakers also need to understand poverty’s role in the academic equation and provide early intervention and support services for kids and parents alike to address that.”

As well as informing legislators, the report will help the state’s community, education, health and children’s organizations identify the state policies needed for healthy kids.

“Every child deserves a chance to live a healthy life,” said Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, executive director and health officer for the Detroit Health Department. “While there are several highlights from the Kids Count data report, like decreases in teen pregnancy and lead poisoning rates, there’s still lots of work to do. Unintended pregnancy stands at 45 percent and 1 in 3 mothers did not receive adequate prenatal care. With a focus on good policy and efficient programs, we can speed the march in the right direction. Our children deserve it.”

For additional information on the Kids Count in Michigan Data Book 2016, including the full report, state, county and regional rankings, charts and images, resources for advocates, and county-specific press releases, go to http://www.mlpp.org/kids-count/michigan-2/mi-data-book-2016.

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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, 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, Battle Creek Community Foundation, Fetzer Institute and Kalamazoo Community Foundation. More state and local data are available at the Kids Count Data Center, www.datacenter.kidscount.org.

Michigan League for Public Policy examines Flint, other “Cities in Crisis”

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Series of policy analyses will look at Flint water crisis, unsafe conditions in Detroit Public Schools and systemic problems with state government

LANSING — The Michigan League for Public Policy released an overview of the Flint water crisis today entitled “A Blueprint for Disaster: Flint’s Crisis, State Government’s Challenges and the Policy Solutions to Both.” It is the first in a series of fact sheets the League will produce analyzing “Cities in Crisis” in Michigan.

“Like most people in Michigan right now, our hearts and minds are focused on the water crisis in Flint and what needs to happen now and in the future to address it,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president & CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “But as we began to look at the situation in Flint, we saw a pattern in state policies that began before the Flint water switch and have set up lots of communities for disaster. With ‘Cities in Crisis,’ the League will be taking a closer look at the specific needs of Flint and Detroit schools as well as broader issues their struggles have exposed in state government.”

The League’s fact sheet on Flint connects the water crisis to bigger government failures in Michigan than just the water system change, including the shift of what the role of government should be, the failure of the business-model approach and the ongoing disinvestment in infrastructure in the state. “A Blueprint for Disaster” also offers immediate and ongoing recommendations for policy changes to better serve all Michigan residents, regardless of their income, their zip code or the color of their skin.

The League will release a new fact sheet every week or so that can be followed on the League’s Cities in Crisis webpage. This page also includes information on the League’s communications, advocacy and policy work on the Flint water crisis. Upcoming fact sheets will be analyzing the statewide disinvestment in infrastructure, negative effects of lead poisoning, social determinants of health, unsafe conditions in Detroit Public Schools and other pressing issues facing Michigan communities.

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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.

Statement: State budget needs policy changes, new revenue and ideological shift to prevent future crises

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING —The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on Governor Rick Snyder’s 2017 budget presentation. The statement may be attributed to League President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“While we support the budget funding proposed today to immediately address the crises in Flint and Detroit schools, we deplore having to clean up state government messes when there are so many other pressing needs. We can’t make the state budget a teeter-totter that helps those in crisis but ignores those in need, or these disasters will repeat themselves in other communities and schools around the state. Improving infrastructure and supporting early education and child care, nutrition and health for low-income families should be priorities statewide, and Michigan needs systemic policy changes and new and stable revenue streams to do so.

“Today’s budget proposal did include some major victories for the people of Michigan that we have been fighting for for years, like expanding Healthy Kids Dental to all eligible kids in every county and increasing the clothing allowance for low-income kids. We hope that these significant improvements survive the legislative process, and that the budget cuts that will surely come do not target these or other vital programs and services that Michigan kids, workers and families depend on. Finally, we hope the governor and Legislature will step up to finally and permanently address the significant racial, economic and geographic disparities that are perpetuated in the budget process year after year to show we truly are ‘one Michigan.’”

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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.

Statement: Governor needs to follow up Flint water plan with action

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING —The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on Governor Rick Snyder’s 2016 State of the State address:

“Tonight the Governor outlined a plan of action to address the Flint water crisis, and now it’s up to him to roll up his sleeves, show some leadership and push the Legislature—led by his party—to get it done,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, League president and CEO. “This man-made disaster poisoned communities and will have lifelong consequences for kids and families in Flint. We have to make sure that the policy solutions and support for these children and their families are also life-long, and guarantee that human suffering for the sake of cost-savings never, ever happens again, in any community in the state, under anyone’s watch.”

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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.

Statement: Lawmakers need to use available revenues to address Flint water crisis and long-term disinvestments

January 14, 2016
Contact: Chelsea Lewis
clewis@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING- The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the revenue projections announced today:

“The one-time funds identified today are needed for a short-term fix for the massive public failures that led to the poisoning of Flint children, but we can’t stop there,” said Karen Holcomb-Merrill, vice president of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “We must also move quickly on a long-term and statewide strategy.”

“Michigan’s failure to provide for its basic infrastructure including schools, communities and public health and human services has been painfully exposed-on a national level-through the Flint debacle. Flint’s problems are a canary in a coal mine in terms of public disinvestments, and Michigan must act aggressively to ensure that all children have safe water and homes, as well as access to the high quality education needed to ultimately lead the state forward.”

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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.

Statement: Approval of federal waiver for Healthy Michigan Plan great gift to Michigan

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING — The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the federal government’s approval of the second waiver for the Healthy Michigan Plan today:

“We are thrilled with the federal government’s approval of the second waiver today that will enable the Healthy Michigan Plan to continue,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Like the more than 600,000 people who depend on the Healthy Michigan Plan for affordable healthcare, we were anxiously awaiting this decision, and this is tremendous news for our entire state.”

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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.

Michigan still lags significantly behind nation in per-pupil funding

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

State needs more investment in per-pupil funding to match progress on reading, at-risk initiatives

LANSING — Momentum to increase education funding must continue to better serve Michigan’s students and workforce, according to a report released today by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.

After progress by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Legislature on increasing funding to improve third-grade reading and help at-risk students, policymakers should look to make greater investments in per-pupil funding which are vital to improving Michigan’s education system. In addition, more needs to be done to address the rampant racial disparities in education performance. The state should also reevaluate the school funding formula that is inordinately hurting students in the midst of declining enrollment.

According to the new report, Michigan still ranks 12th worst in the country in the extent of cuts to per-pupil education funding (inflation-adjusted) since the start of the recession. Michigan has cut investment in K-12 schools by 7.5 percent per student since 2008, a deeper cut than 34 other states (four states did not have data available for comparison).

These cuts have had damaging consequences that threaten the quality of education in the state and make it harder for the next generation of Michigan workers to compete for highly skilled jobs in the global economy. This also deprives local businesses of a well-trained workforce and a strong customer base, and hurts families and communities that may not qualify for good paying jobs.

“A well-educated workforce fosters economic growth, and our state’s recovery is directly tied to our investment in education,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president & CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “The recent progress on specific funding for third-grade reading and at-risk students is heartening, but we still have much more work to do on per-pupil funding to make sure all of our students and all of our schools are being adequately funded.”

While Michigan has not continued to cut support for schools this year, even as the economy recovers, the state’s “increase” in per-pupil education funding was only .8 percent (adjusted for inflation). After devastating cuts during the state’s economic struggles, Michigan is still investing less in our schools than before the recession, measured by per-pupil spending when adjusted for inflation.

Reducing investment in schools weakens the economy in the long term. Quality elementary, middle and high school education provides a crucial foundation that helps children to succeed in college and in the workplace. The money they earn is returned to the state economy in the future through taxes, home purchases and spending at local businesses. In addition, school budgets that force school layoffs or cut pay for teachers and other staff can reduce purchasing power and slow the pace of the recovery.

“At a time when the nation is trying to produce workers with the skills to master new technologies and adapt to the complexities of a global economy, states should be investing more—not less—so our kids get a strong education,” said Michael Leachman, director of state fiscal research at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and coauthor of the report released today.

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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 president honored by Food Bank Council of Michigan

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Jacobs receives Hunger-Free Michigan Award to recognize the League’s efforts to reduce hunger and poverty

LANSING — Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Jacobs was recently honored by the Food Bank Council of Michigan at their Michigan Harvest Gathering. Jacobs was a recipient of the Food Bank Council’s Hunger-Free Michigan Award, which was presented to her by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Food Bank Council of Michigan Executive Director Phillip Knight.

The Hunger-Free Michigan Award goes to individuals and organizations in Michigan who are working to eliminate hunger and poverty in Michigan. As head of the League, Jacobs has had a strong record on working to pass state policies that promote and protect vital safety net programs and help get food and support to those who are struggling.

“If Michigan truly wants to be the comeback state, we need to get to a place where people are not forced to choose between buying food for their families or paying their rent, car insurance, utility bills or medical costs,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president & CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “While the efforts of Michigan’s food banks is important and appreciated, I long for a day when their services are not needed and all Michigan people are able to feed themselves.”

“Gilda Jacobs has invested her life in service to others,” said Dr. Phillip Knight, Food Bank Council of Michigan executive director. “She is a principled, passionate and poignant advocate of our residents.”

The League has worked on a variety of issues that would help reduce poverty and hunger in Michigan, including opposing the asset test on state assistance and a law tying school truancy to assistance as well as promoting the protection of the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit and the extension of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

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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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