State budget and equity

Contact: Judy Putnam at (517) 487-5436
March 15, 2012

Creating opportunity for all in Michigan
How budget priorities can reduce inequities

As Michigan legislators continue work on the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, a new Michigan League for Human Services report shines a light on opportunities to increase equity across the state for a more successful economy.

How the Budget Can Create Economic Opportunity looks at the state budget as a statement of priorities and how it can break down structural inequities that hurt communities of color.

“Where a person starts out in life should not determine where they end up,’’ said Michigan League for Human Services President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs. “Every child born in Michigan deserves a chance to achieve their full potential and give back to society.’’

While the recession has hurt all communities, it has particularly impacted communities of color with disparities in health, education and income across the board. For example, infant mortality rate of African American babies is three times that of white infants. In addition, large wage gaps persist with the 2010 median household income for whites at $48,125; African Americans at $28,718 while Hispanics were at $36,355.

This is important to the state’s future. While about one fourth Michigan’s population are people of color, children of color now make up nearly a third of all of the state’s children. Projections to 2020, predict growth in Asian, Latino and African American youth populations and a decline in white youth.  A growing share of Michigan’s future workforce will be people of color.
The report detailed reductions to the very public structures that can help create more economic opportunity, specifically  health care, poverty-reduction programs, education and worker training.

“It’s in our best interest to ensure that everyone enjoys full and equitable opportunity in Michigan,’’ Jacobs said. “If we do not attend to inequities by removing barriers to opportunity, Michigan’s economy will suffer.’’

The report recommends that policymakers:

• Examine how state policy and budget decisions affect racial inequities.
• Restore funding for the annual child clothing allowance for the state’s poorest children and increase the hourly rate for the Child Care Assistance Program.
• Return the state Earned Income Tax Credit to 20 percent of the federal credit.
• Improve access to health care for low-income residents by supporting Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.
• Expand education and training through more robust support of K-12, community colleges, higher education and adult education.

The Michigan League for Human Services is a statewide, nonpartisan policy and advocacy group dedicated to achieving economic security for all in Michigan. It is celebrating 100 years of research and advocacy in 2012.