News Releases

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.

Statement: Latest roads plan jeopardizes schools and public safety, perpetuates roads problem

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING — The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the road funding plan passed by the Michigan Senate today:

“Today’s ‘new’ road funding plan contains many of the things that the previous flawed plans included and should be rejected,” said Karen Holcomb-Merrill, vice president of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Our schools, public safety and local communities will all be put into jeopardy with $600 million in unspecified future budget cuts and an income tax rollback that will further starve dollars available for many of the things Michigan residents value. Finally, this plan doesn’t get us where we need to be funding-wise for years, when our roads will be even worse than they are now. It perpetuates the problem instead of offering a true solution.”

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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.

Report: $1.6B business tax cuts derailed road funding years ago, not boosting economy

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

As impasse continues in Lansing over roads revenue, new report says

drastic business tax cuts to blame

LANSING — As Michigan legislators remain gridlocked on a road funding solution, a new report ties the stalemate to $1.6 billion in business tax cuts passed in 2011. The report details the fiscal and economic fallout from the tax cuts, which led to less money for the state’s roads, cuts to schools and communities, and higher taxes on individuals without boosting Michigan’s economy as promised.

Today, the Michigan League for Public Policy released its report, Enough is Enough: Business Tax Cuts Fail to Grow Michigan’s Economy, Hurt Budget. An Executive Summary of the report is also available. The report reveals that while the state budget and individual taxpayers have suffered due to these business tax cuts, the $1.6 billion giveaway had no significant impact on Michigan’s job growth, per capita income or poverty.

“As Legislators continue to argue over where road funding revenue should come from, they have to take some accountability for the $1.6 billion in revenue they gave away with these business tax cuts in 2011,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president & CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Over the last four years, our roads have continued to deteriorate, individuals have struggled beneath an onerous tax shift, and our economy has fared worse, not better, than many of the Midwest states.”

The state’s lack of revenue to fix our roads and where that revenue should come from has been the focal point of the roads debate. But the state budget would not be so strained if it wasn’t for the $1.6 billion handed out to businesses in 2011. Michigan businesses’ contribution to state revenue is estimated to fall by nearly 80% between 2011 and 2016; at the same time Michigan’s reliance on individual income taxes grew by nearly 40%, disproportionately hurting low- to middle-income families and seniors. Michigan drastically disinvested in its roads, students and communities, and the Legislature is even considering significant and undefined cuts to the state budget in the years ahead as part of a roads deal.

The League’s report also exposes the fact that none of the intended benefits of these business tax cuts have materialized. Private job growth in Michigan had its biggest increase in 2011, before the tax cuts took effect, with growth slowing after they were implemented. Michigan is still roughly 7.5% below its private job peak in 2000. While the unemployment rate has improved, it is still one of the highest rates in the region, and it dropped in part because of a shrinking workforce. Michigan’s labor underutilization rate, which essentially includes all of those unemployed and underemployed, for 2014 was the 5th highest in the nation at 13.9% and its labor participation rate continues to remain below the national average.

The economic standing of Michigan residents is even worse. Nearly 1 in 6 Michigan residents, and 1 in 4 children, live below the poverty level ($24,000 a year for a family of four). One in three children lives in a household where neither parent holds a full-time job or is forced to piece together part-time jobs that do not provide stable employment. Michigan’s per capita income is roughly 12% below the national average, and 7% behind the Midwest region. When looking at the period just prior to the enactment of the business tax cuts through 2014, Michigan is one of the slowest growing states in terms of wage growth in the region, tied with Indiana.

“What little job growth we’ve had has been in low-wage jobs, and because of that, high poverty continues to be a problem in Michigan,” Jacobs said. “When you look at this report, the other Great Lakes states with higher business taxes are doing better than us, in job growth, per capita income, education level—on nearly everything. It’s time to admit that this so-called reform failed and start modeling ourselves after successful states with innovative, equitable tax policies and investment in the roads, schools and services that individuals and businesses alike depend on.”

The League’s report contained several policy recommendations that could benefit our roads and our economy. First and foremost, the League opposes any further business tax cuts, encourages a review and elimination of ineffective tax expenditures, and recommends that policymakers revisit the tax shift of 2011 to determine if the Corporate Income Tax rate and base are sufficient. The report encourages lawmakers to explore new revenues that will allow the state to make strategic investments in the things people and businesses want, like roads and schools. This includes adopting a fairer income tax structure, which could cut taxes on most individual taxpayers and still bring in more revenue, and diversifying the sales tax base.

To counteract the detrimental tax shift on to individuals, especially low-income working families, the report calls for the restoration of the targeted credits like the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that help low- to middle-income people and the economy. A number of credits, including the EITC, were reduced or fully eliminated as part of the 2011 tax shift. These credits are immediately used in the economy, being spent on transportation, childcare or household items.

The League opposes a broad income tax rollback, especially as part of a road funding solution, as overall rate reductions help the wealthy more than lower income taxpayers and simply reduce state revenue that is necessary to pay for our vital services.

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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: New roads plan hurts low earners, budget and future

Contact: Alex Rossman at 517.487.5436

LANSING — The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the new road funding plan passed by the Michigan House last night:

“The House-passed road funding plan is fiscally irresponsible and shortsighted. Taking hundreds of millions of dollars—all undefined—from the General Fund only means more pain for our schools, our public safety and our state services that have already endured devastating cuts,” said Karen Holcomb-Merrill, vice president of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “And an income tax rollback will decimate our budget and the programs it supports even further, all while giving literally dollars to those with meager incomes—nearly half our state’s population—and thousands of dollars back to the rich.”

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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: Road funding solution must protect services, families

Contact: Alex Rossman at 517.487.5436

LANSING — The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the renewed discussions on road funding today that included a public debate in the Senate and private caucus discussions in the House:

“We are glad to see road discussions rejuvenated today and hope that action is soon to follow,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “As negotiations resume, we will continue to push for a road funding solution that doesn’t take money away from critical services and doesn’t punish those who are still struggling to make ends meet.”

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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.

 

Report: Efforts to reduce teen pregnancies in Michigan working

For Immediate Release:
October 7, 2015

Contact: Alex Rossman (arossman@mlpp.org) or
Alicia Guevara Warren (aliciagw@mlpp.org)
Michigan League for Public Policy, 517.487.5436

 Teen births down 40 percent, but much room for improvement

 LANSING – Concentrated efforts over the past 20 years have led to a 40 percent drop in Michigan’s teen births, but the annual state teen birth rate remains among the highest of any industrialized country and significant disparities persist in low-income communities and communities of color, according to a new report released today.

In its latest Right Start policy report, Teen births in Michigan, its cities and townships: We cannot afford to slow down progress, the Michigan League for Public Policy highlights the strides made to reduce teen births since 1992 with changes in public policy, funding for evidence-based and results-driven programs, sex education and access to birth control and healthcare. Michigan’s overall annual teen birth rate of 24 births per 1,000 was below the national average of 27 teen births per 1,000 in 2013, and had dropped from 13 percent in 1992 to 7 percent of all births in 2013. Still, American teens are more than twice as likely to have a baby as those in Canada, four times more likely than teens in Germany or Norway and almost 10 times more likely than teens in Switzerland.

“We have far fewer babies born to teen moms today and we should be thrilled with this progress, but we must not slow our efforts,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan Project Director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “We still have too many babies born to teen moms—an average of almost 9,000 annually over the last three years—and that’s 9,000 babies who are more likely to live in poverty, struggle academically and suffer from health issues.”

Research shows that teen childbearing has a lifelong impact on both mother and child, along with the state’s economy. Most teen moms do not complete high school, live in poverty, and raise a child alone, making it more difficult to ensure that their children are ready and prepared for school. Children living in poverty also are more susceptible to decreased health outcomes and are at higher risk for abuse and neglect. Michigan taxpayers also bear the cost of teen childbearing at approximately $283 million in 2010, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. On the positive side, the decline in teen births between 1991 and 2010 saved state taxpayers almost half a billion dollars in 2010 alone.

Of particular concern are persistent racial and ethnic disparities with African-American and Hispanic teens having much higher percentages of births and repeat births before age 20 than white teens. Still, an average of 4,440 babies were born to white teens compared to 3,310 to African-American teens and 952 born to Hispanic teens between 2011 and 2013.

Teen pregnancy also disproportionately impacts low-income communities. Of the 69 major population centers in Michigan examined, those in wealthy suburban communities in Oakland, Ottawa and Macomb had the smallest percentages of teen births. However, the communities with the largest percentages of teen births were concentrated in central cities in eight counties across Michigan’s lower half, including Battle Creek, Port Huron, Muskegon, Flint/Flint Township, Jackson, Pontiac, Saginaw, Detroit and Highland Park.

The report details a number of recommendations for policymakers, healthcare providers, communities, schools, parents and caregivers to improve policy and practices, including:

    • Supporting funding for evidence-based, results-driven programming to prevent teen pregnancies.
    • Targeting resources specifically for youth in foster care and the juvenile justice system, who have higher than average rates of pregnancy.
    • Increasing the availability of birth control and ensuring access to affordable contraception.
    • Expanding early childhood services, including home visitation programs.
    • Promoting youth development programs and supporting programs for at-risk teens.

“There are so many ways that we as a state, community and family can effectively and economically reduce the chances of teen pregnancy and the negative consequences it brings to all of us, including the parents and children who bear the most of it,” Guevara-Warren said. “Teen pregnancy is preventable, and with continued and concentrated efforts, we should see even greater results in another 20 years.”

In addition to the full report, individual profiles of 20 communities can be found at www.mlpp.org/kids-count/michigan-2/2015-right-start. For more information on the League’s Kids Count work, go to www.mlpp.org/kids-count.

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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 Detroit-based Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Frey Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Battle Creek Community Foundation, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, and John E. Fetzer Fund of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.

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. Right Start is a product of Kids Count in Michigan, a project of the League.

 

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.

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