News Releases

More state budget funding needed to address economic opportunity for all children and families

For Immediate Release
September 24, 2015

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

League report shows state’s fiscal policy hurting low-income residents and children, workers of color

Michigan’s 2016 state budget takes effect next week, and a new report shows that more needs to be done to ensure that all Michigan children and families have the opportunity to reach their full potential—regardless of race, ethnicity or zip code.

Today, the Michigan League for Public Policy released its report, The 2016 State Budget: Gains for Some Children and Families but Deep Disparities Persist. An Executive Summary of the report is also available. The report shows that the programs in the budget that would have the greatest impact on economic opportunity and equity for all people in Michigan are still underfunded.

“While some Michigan children, families and communities are benefiting from the state’s slow economic recovery, others have been left behind, in part because of state budget priorities,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president & CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “This report shows the resulting educational, health and economic disparities—from preschool to high school and beyond—that make it difficult for families to succeed, especially people of color, and will ultimately thwart the state’s economic growth for generations to come.”

Missing from the 2016 budget are investments in early learning for infants and toddlers (Ages 0-3) and other education initiatives to help at-risk children and youth; efforts to lessen child poverty and ensure that parents are able to work and support their children; and funds to give all young people access to the education or training that can lead to economic security.

Poverty continues to be a significant problem in the state, with Census data released last week showing that nearly 1 in 4 Michigan children is living in poverty. The state’s poverty rate for adults is still 14.3%, only dropping .8% in the last year. Both rates are worse than the national average. Those numbers are worse by race, with 48% of African-Americans and 32% of Hispanics living in poverty, while only 17% of whites live in poverty. Children are hit even harder, with 57% of African-American kids and 42% of Hispanic kids in Michigan having no parent with full-time, year-round employment.

Access to a high-quality education continues to be one of the most important building blocks to economic opportunity, yet many programs are still not receiving the funding they need to enable kids to succeed. State investment is still too low in early learning for children from birth through age 3, the time when the very architecture of the brain is developed in ways that affect lifelong learning and success. Children of color are less likely to be proficient in reading by fourth grade, with only 48% of African-American and 58% of Hispanic students being proficient compared to 77% of white students.

Low-income students and students of color are also less likely to have the resources they need to get a high school diploma, with dropout rates of 17% for African-Americans, 16% for economically disadvantaged students and 15% for Hispanics, compared to 7% for their white peers. The state’s targeted efforts to ensure that all children get a diploma—the key to postsecondary training and education—are still insufficient. Many students continue to be priced out of a postsecondary education and subsequent career opportunities.

“We are seeing more and more the need to take a two-generation approach to state policy because successful kids must first have financially secure parents,” Jacobs said. “Smart investments in families and communities can lift people out of poverty and help children reach their full potential and are a necessary part of the state’s economic strategy.”

The report points out that a 70% cut in the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit in 2011 hurt low-income working families and their children, along with changes in Family Independence Program policies—including a detrimental asset test for food assistance, restrictive lifetime limits for assistance and sanctions for families based on the truancy of a single child.

The report also notes positive budget changes, including the ongoing expansion of the state’s preschool program for low-income 4-year-olds, a new initiative to improve reading by fourth grade, the expansion of dental care to some children in three of the state’s most populous counties, additional funding for school districts with high numbers of low-income children, and changes to child care eligibility and payments.

For more information on the Michigan budget and the League’s ongoing analysis of it, visit http://www.mlpp.org/our-work/state-budget.

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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 continues to trail the country in fight against poverty

For Immediate Release
September 17, 2015

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

 

State must focus on better jobs, wages and workplace policies to help families climb the economic ladder

Too many Michigan residents still struggled to make ends meet in 2014, according to new data released today from the Census Bureau, highlighting the need for continued state and federal action to help people build a stable home and a secure future.

Approximately one in six (16.2%) Michiganians struggled to afford basic necessities in 2014, living below the federal poverty level ($24,000 a year for a family of four). The number continues to be even higher for children, with almost one in four Michigan kids currently growing up in impoverished families that can’t give them a good start to life because they make earn so little. While Michigan’s poverty numbers went down since 2013, from 15.1% to 14.3% for adults and 23.4% to 22.2% for kids, the number of people struggling remains too high and is holding back our economy and hampering our kids’ futures. There were other economic improvements between 2013 and 2014 for some, including a 1.7% ($834) increase in median household income to $49,847, but the numbers don’t illustrate the widening gap between the top and bottom of Michigan’s earning scale.

“This data shows that recovery is all relative, and job growth and higher income for some does not mean a better life for others,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “As a state, we can’t get distracted championing the miniscule fraction of adults and children who got out of poverty and forget about the 22% who are still mired in it.”

Protecting proven, pro-work tax credits like the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) as well as the Michigan EITC are ways Michigan can do better this year and help put struggling people on a better path. These incentives open the doors of opportunity for people who work at low-wage jobs. The state and federal EITC and CTC let workers keep more of what they earn to help pay for things that allow them to keep working, such as child care and transportation. In doing so, the credits help build a more secure future for these families–including their kids–while boosting local economies across the state.

Michigan’s EITC helps over one million children in the state. Earlier this summer, it was targeted for elimination as part of road funding discussions, and it continues to be threatened as long as a road funding solution is still outstanding. While the League and partners have been working to protect the state EITC at its current level, the best way to reduce poverty in Michigan would be to restore Michigan’s EITC. In 2011, the Michigan EITC was reduced from 20% of the federal EITC to just 6% of it, significantly reducing the state’s support of low-income workers. At 6%, the Michigan EITC helps pull nearly 7,000 working families out of poverty. If restored to the full 20%, it has more than three times the impact, lifting more than 22,000 working families out of poverty.

The federal EITC and CTC are also in jeopardy if Congress doesn’t act to protect these valuable tools for helping struggling families. Key aspects of these credits are set to expire, and if Congress does not act, more than 50 million Americans, including 25 million children, will lose part or all of their EITC or CTC. Right here in Michigan, 727,000 children in 415,000 Michigan families will lose some or all of their working-family tax credits and 176,000 children, and 357,000 Michiganians overall, will be pushed into—or deeper into—poverty.

“Michigan’s economic standing is unfortunately beginning to match our geography, with a growing strait between people at the top and people at the bottom,” Jacobs said. “Michigan lawmakers need to build a bridge and support policies that bring all of us closer together, including the state and federal Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.”

The League’s other policy recommendations for addressing poverty include:

    • Returning unemployment benefits to 26 weeks. Michigan Legislature cut to 20 weeks in 2011;
    • Finding ways to get more food assistance to the hungry. Michigan has options to expand federal food benefits in the state;
    • Enacting policies that make it easier for workers earning low wages to keep their jobs through earned sick leave and affordable child care, as well as develop skills and obtain credentials for the new economy.

Click on these blog links for more information on the League’s efforts to protect the state and federal EITC and the CTC: Michigan families need federal action on EITC, CTC; Save the Michigan EITC.

 

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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.

Healthy Michigan Plan is covering half a million residents, but action is needed to save it

For Immediate Release
September 16, 2015

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

 

More people in Michigan have health insurance thanks to Affordable Care Act and state efforts

The number of people with healthcare coverage in Michigan increased in 2014 because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Michigan expanded Medicaid through the Healthy Michigan Plan (effective April 1, 2014) and experienced strong enrollment through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, reaching residents who otherwise couldn’t afford healthcare coverage.

The Census Bureau today released the country’s official data on health insurance rates, which shows that 235,000 more Michiganians had health insurance in 2014 than in 2013, a 2.4% jump from 2013. This improvement is largely due to the Healthy Michigan Plan, even though it was only in effect for nine months in 2014. States like Michigan that have expanded Medicaid to include more people collectively had a higher share of people with insurance than states that did not expand Medicaid, and that gap is growing.

“The Census data reveals what we have been striving toward for years—the Affordable Care Act and the Healthy Michigan Plan are working, allowing more residents to get the medical care they need at a price they can afford,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Governor Rick Snyder has been a champion for increasing healthcare coverage and the health of Michigan residents, and our people and our economy are reaping the rewards.”

The ACA offered people without healthcare coverage access to insurance from the private market and through expanded Medicaid, which has been providing quality, cost-efficient healthcare for 50 years. The expansion of Medicaid through the Healthy Michigan Plan means it reaches more struggling people whose employers don’t provide insurance and whose low pay makes it impossible to afford the cost of private health insurance.

Hundreds of thousands of Michiganians have gained healthcare coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, which allows people to compare prices and benefits of healthcare plans. Many of these people make too much to qualify for Medicaid but don’t make enough to afford private insurance, so they receive federal subsidies to help them pay their premiums and reduce their out-of-pocket health costs.

In order to strengthen state-run Medicaid expansion coverage, the federal government agreed to pay all the costs of providing Healthy Michigan Plan coverage to people making up to $32,500 per year for a family of four (138% of the federal poverty rate) through 2016, and then no less than 90% of the costs thereafter. But the Supreme Court left it up to the state to decide whether to extend their benefits to these people and accept the federal funding to do so. Fortunately, Michigan lawmakers agreed to expand and modify its Medicaid program, and created the Healthy Michigan Plan. The program has been extremely successful, with about 600,000 participants currently.

In their passage of the Healthy Michigan Plan legislation, however, Michigan lawmakers required the Department of Health and Human Services (then the Department of Community Health) to obtain two waivers from the federal government to operate the program. The first waiver was approved in 2013 and continues through December 31, 2018. The second waiver was formally submitted to the federal government on September 1, 2015, but it is expected to be more difficult to obtain. It is not clear if there is a federal waiver option and path to move forward that meets the requirements of the state law and does not violate federal law or regulation.

Without approval of the waiver or modification by the Michigan Legislature, the Healthy Michigan Plan will end on April 30, 2016, even though the provisions of the second waiver will not be effective until April 1, 2018. All participants would lose their healthcare coverage despite the second waiver impacting only those enrolled in the program for 48 months who have incomes between 100% and 138% of the poverty level—a small percentage of the total enrollees.

“While lawmakers’ creation of the Healthy Michigan Plan has been crucial to reducing the number of uninsured in Michigan, they unfortunately included a provision in the second waiver requirement that puts healthcare in jeopardy for the more than half a million people currently participating and the many more who could benefit from it down the road,” Jacobs said. “I hope state legislators will see these statistics today, take pride in what they’ve helped accomplish, and realize that whether it’s through state or federal action, we must continue this vital program.”

The Michigan League for Public Policy has put together some helpful information on healthcare coverage in Michigan, including an interactive county-by-county map on Healthy Michigan Plan enrollment, a fact sheet on the Healthy Michigan Plan and a fact sheet on the Healthy Michigan Plan second waiver. League health policy analyst Jan Hudson also recently wrote a blog on the success of the ACA.

 

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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.

 

Labor Day report shows economic recovery still a myth for many

For Immediate Release
September 3, 2015

Contact: Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

 

Despite the continued decline in Michigan’s unemployment rate, a new Labor Day report finds that the economic recovery so many are celebrating overlooks some startling statistics about the real condition of working families in the state.

The Michigan League for Public Policy’s report released today, Labor Day Report: Economic Recovery Eludes Many Michigan Families, found that many Michigan workers have simply given up looking for work or have left the state to pursue employment elsewhere. Many of those employed in the state have had to take part-time or low-wage jobs and are still struggling to make ends meet, and unemployment and low wages continue to disproportionately affect people of color.

“I am as happy as the next person to see our state’s unemployment rate go down, but we can’t all put on rose-colored glasses and lose sight of the real economic struggles that are persisting in Michigan,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “A third of our state’s unemployed have been out of work for more than half a year. Our state has lost nearly half a million workers since 2000. Unemployment for African-Americans is nearly 10% higher than it is for white workers, with their median wages almost $5 less. That doesn’t sound like recovery to me.”

The report makes several policy recommendations to bring true economic recovery for all to the state, including modernizing the unemployment system, better funding adult education and training, restoring financial aid grants for older students and raising the minimum wage.

Unemployment is down and the number of jobs is up in Michigan, but a closer analysis reveals that many of the jobs created in recent years have been low-wage, part-time jobs. Currently, 25% of adult workers are in low-wage jobs and 32.4% of working families in Michigan are low income, perpetuating the high poverty rate in the state. Michigan’s long-term unemployment rate is also still steep, with 34.8% of jobless workers in the state being unemployed for six months or more.

In looking at the racial disparities in unemployment and wages, the Labor Day report showed that in 2014, unemployment for white workers was at 5.7%, with unemployment for African-Americans being almost 10% higher at 15.8%. Unemployment for Hispanic workers was 8.8%. In addition, for 2014, the median wages for African-Americans were $11.79, $4.32 less than the media wages for white workers.

“If we are going to truly turn our state’s economy around, we have to look at the big picture,” Jacobs said. “We need policies that reduce unemployment by creating jobs, not losing workers, and close the gap between low-income workers and the rest of the 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 EITC coalition encourages lawmakers to avoid including credit in road funding debate

For Immediate Releasee
August 8, 2015

Contacts: David Waymire, Martin Waymire
(517) 485-6600
dwaymire@martinwaymire.com

 

State EITC helps nearly 800,000 low income, working Michigan households, nearly 1 million children

Lansing, MI: A coalition of organizations supporting the state Earned Income Tax Credit today urged lawmakers to maintain support for the state EITC as a popular key tool for fighting poverty, particularly among children.

Some lawmakers have suggested using $117 million that now is used for the EITC to pay for road projects in future years. “Academic research and survey data shows that is a very bad idea,” said Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “We know that a robust state EITC is a critical part of helping working families move up and out of poverty. We also know from recent polling that nearly 70 percent of Michigan voters oppose the idea of cutting the EITC and using it for roads.”

Tom Hickson, vice president of public policy for the Michigan Catholic Conference, said his organization has been working to inform lawmakers of the value of the EITC. “We are among the many religious organizations who have said we need to have compassionate, effective policies to attack poverty. The state EITC is one of them,” Hickson said. “It’s a hand up that only goes to low-income families with income, and rewards hard work.”

Matt Gillard, president and CEO of Michigan’s Children, noted that nearly 1 million children are in families that benefit from the EITC. “Childhood poverty is an increasingly difficult issue in our state. If we want to ensure our youngest and most vulnerable population gets a good start in life, the EITC is an effective tool with a proven track record of helping children escape poverty,” Gillard said.

Ross Yednock, program director with the Michigan Economic Impact Coalition at Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM), noted that some lawmakers have suggested the $143 average benefit from the EITC is too small to make a difference. “We know that is a car payment for many EITC recipients; it pays for 50 gallons of gas, or helps make a utility or property tax payment. It’s important to those families in many ways,” Yednock said.

Nancy Lindman, director of public policy and partnerships, Michigan Association of United Ways, said that lawmakers should realize the EITC is important to residents and businesses across Michigan. “From Detroit to Crawford County, many working families find the EITC a valuable bump in income at tax time  and they spend their money close to home, helping local businesses. We talk to small businesses who recognize the value of the EITC when they see additional economic activity during income tax refund season.”

More than 30 groups from across the state have signed on to support the state EITC and urge its continued support, including Focus: HOPE, Michigan Disability Rights Coalition, Genesee County Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill Industries of West Michigan and many United Ways across the state.

For more information visit www.saveeitc.com.

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Michiganders: Clean Power Plan will reduce dangerous pollution, protect public health, create jobs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 3, 2015

Contact: Jen Flood, Byrum & Fisk Communications
(517) 333-1606

 

LANSING – Michiganders from across the state today hailed the Clean Power Plan, announced today, as our biggest opportunity to reduce dangerous pollution, protect public health and create jobs.

“The Clean Power Plan is a major step forward in the fight against climate change, which threatens the health of Michigan children, families and seniors,” said Kathleen Slonager, RN, executive director, Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America—Michigan Chapter. “The sooner we act to reduce dangerous pollution, the more we can do to reduce Michigan’s high asthma rates and protect the most vulnerable.” (more…)

More Michigan kids live in poverty now than during Great Recession

Contact: Alicia Guevara Warren at aliciagw@mlpp.org
or 517.487.5436

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, July 21, 2015

More Michigan kids live in poverty now than during Great Recession

Michigan slips again in state rankings for child well-being, now 33rd

LANSING, Mich. – While most states have seen improvements in child well-being over the past five years, families in Michigan continue to suffer with more children living in poverty now than in the last full year of the Great Recession, according to the new 2015 KIDS COUNT® Data Book released today from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

More than 524,000 Michigan children live in poverty, a rate of one in four, compared to one in five in 2008. The number of children in families where no parent has full-time employment also is up, from 31 percent to 33 percent. And the state’s rank in overall child well-being fell for the second year in a row, placing it behind 32 other states including all of its Great Lakes neighbors: Minnesota (1st), Wisconsin (13th), Illinois (20th), Ohio (23rd) and Indiana (32nd). (more…)

Michigan voters overwhelmingly oppose cutting EITC to pay for roads

A survey released today of Michigan voters shows two-thirds support the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, and are opposed to plans to eliminate it to provide $115 million for transportation funding. The telephone survey, conducted for a coalition of interests supporting the EITC, was conducted by EPIC-MRA of 600 voters from June 27 to June 30. July 1, 2015 — Poll Release

Statement: Supreme Court ruling affirms healthcare security for Michigan

For Immediate Release
June 25, 2015

Contact: Karen Holcomb-Merrill
karenhm@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING – The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act in King V. Burwell. The statement may be attributed to League Vice President Karen Holcomb-Merrill. (more…)

Workers need family-friendly jobs, not laws against them

For Immediate Release
June 11, 2015

Contact: Stacey Range Messina
smessina@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Report details how lawmakers can improve jobs, House bill not among them

LANSING – No one wants their meal served with a side of flu or sick children sent to school or child care, but it happens every day across Michigan with low-wage workers losing critical income if they miss work.

Lack of earned sick leave as well as paid family and medical leave, predictable work schedules, and adequate child care assistance in Michigan puts low-income families in a constant struggle to achieve financial self-sufficiency, according to a new report from the Michigan League for Public Policy. That harms everyone with dangers to public health, and greater reliance on public assistance and remedial education to help kids in low-quality child care. (more…)

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