Study: Midland in top 10, Saginaw in bottom 10 for maternal infant well-being

While Midland County ranked near the top, Saginaw County ranked near the bottom of Michigan counties for maternal, and infant well-being. April 30, 2012 —

Allegan, Ottawa counties rank well in Right Start report

Right Start in Michigan 2012 released today by Michigan League for Human Services, looks at Michigan births from 2000 to 2010 and ranks counties based on eight key measures of health. April 30, 2012 — The Holland Sentinel

A new toolkit for addressing foreclosure

Our friends at the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan  started the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force in 2007 to address foreclosure problems in Michigan.  The task force is focused on reducing the number of foreclosures, keeping families (both homeowners and renters) in their homes and softening the impact of foreclosures on communities. (more…)


Recent actions by Michigan policymakers are indeed troubling.

If the state is really concerned about controlling Medicaid costs, it would seem that repealing the requirement that motorcyclists wear crash helmets, requiring only that operators/riders carry a $20,000 insurance rider (reduced from the original $100,000) would not seem to be the best strategy. In the analysis of the helmet bill both the House and Senate Fiscal Agency analysts noted that Medicaid costs would likely increase as the result of more serious injuries. Yet, to date, no funding has been recommended to cover the potential increased costs of this law. (more…)

I’ll take ‘taxes’ for $200, Alex

Let’s play Jeopardy!

The answer: good roads, clean water, services for our seniors, strong schools and safe communities.

The question: What do our taxes fund? Tuesday was Tax Day, a day often filled with grumbling about having to pay taxes. But let’s remember the upside of taxes (pdf) in the Mitten. It’s easy to take for granted much of what our taxes fund (pdf). (more…)

Report: Federal Cuts Could Hurt Vulnerable Michiganders

Used with permission of subscription-only MIRS

MIRS April 10, 2012

Report: Federal Cuts Could Hurt Vulnerable Michiganders

Whether from automatic spending cuts triggered by the failure of the
federal debt Super Committee or from cuts under the “Ryan plan,”
seniors, children and the poor in Michigan stand to suffer, according
to a Michigan League for Human Services (MLHS)-released report.

The report also released today by the Washington D.C.-based Coalition
on Human Needs, details the impact from automatic cuts proposed by the
Budget Control Act last summer after the national debt Super Committee
failed to reach consensus.

While the automatic cuts would hurt, additional cuts in the
House-passed budget known as the Ryan plan would be “far worse,”
according to the report.

The report, titled “Helping the People of Michigan During Tight Budget
Times,” also compares the impact of the proposed cuts with the budget
proposed by President Barack OBAMA.

In one section, the report compares the number of food stamp,
education, and higher education programs that would be cut or
eliminated with what could happen if instead the “Buffet rule” is
enacted to require millionaires to pay at least 30 percent of their
income in taxes. Enacting the Buffet rule would save those programs
from being cut and leave $8 billion for deficit reduction, according
to the report.

Obama lauded the proposed Buffet rule to the nation today (See related story).

The report also compares budget choices like eliminating Medicaid
coverage for 434,000 low-income people or closing the “carried
interest” loophole for hedge fund managers.

“Making the necessary investments to ensure that all Michigan families
have the resources they need to thrive and contribute to the state’s
economy requires thoughtful choices about our long-term fiscal
health,” said MLHS President & CEO Gilda Z. JACOBS. “Unfortunately,
many of the options before Congress threaten serious cuts in vital
human needs programs that would undermine both our fragile recovery
and our future growth.”

If automatic cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act go into effect,
in 2013 alone, Michigan would receive $20.9 million less for Head
Start; $5.5 million less for early care and education; $42.1 million
less for K-12 education; $31.2 million less for special education; and
$8.8 million less for vocational rehabilitation, according to the

Jacobs said that starting in 2014, cuts would be significantly deeper.

Will State, Feds Pay for 60-Month Benefits?

Used with permission of subscription-only MIRS

MIRS April 9, 2012

If the courts throw out the new 60-month welfare benefits cap for disabled recipients, will the state be on the hook for the costs?

Department of Human Services (DHS) Director Maura CORRIGAN told MIRS in March that the answer is yes, but the Michigan League for Human Services (MLHS) isn’t convinced.

“Federal money is available and can be spent on those families if they were to be put back on cash assistance,” said MLHS Communications Director Judy PUTNAM.

The State Budget Office confirmed that there is a projected surplus in federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) dollars — $100 million in Fiscal Year (FY) ’12 and $30 million FY ’13. In theory, that could possibly pay for some or all of what it would cost to extend exemptions for disabled people past the 60-month welfare limit.

Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Geoffrey NEITHERCUT ruled threw out DHS’ 60-month limit last week, but the case is being appealed.

Corrigan said if the Legislature wanted to agree with the ruling and extend cash assistance to this particular population, there would need to be some money attached (See “DHS To Appeal Judge Ruling On 60-Month Limits,” 3/28/2012).

DHS Director for Financial Services Susan KANGAS explained that what looks like a surplus of TANF funds is actually a mix of carryover funds and contingencies — smaller amounts of funding given to the state above its $775 million block grant. The contingencies aren’t expected to last, and neither is the number that looks like a surplus.

“The carryforward at some point here, very shortly, disappears. It’s gone,” said DHS spokesman Dave AKERLY.

By FY ’14, the expectation is that that number will look more like a deficit.

But MLHS senior policy analyst Joanne BUMP said the numbers showing right now should be enough to cover the people who are disabled or otherwise unable to participate in the Jobs, Education and Training (JET) program and are currently being cut off under a newly-enforced 60-month welfare limit.

“What’s important is that the surplus is available with more than enough money to cover these families. And that the federal government does not have a law that requires these families to be kicked off after 60 months,” said Bump.

What the federal government does require is that no more than 20 percent of a state’s welfare population getting federal money have been on the welfare rolls for more than 60 months. DHS spokesperson Colleen ROSSO told MIRS this fall that the state was closer than evercbefore to breaking the line and going above 20 percent, meaning the state would have to pay for any overrun (See “Car Portion of AssetcTest Revoked,” 11/2/2012).

In any case, there’s a lot of uncertainty about federal funding.

“From our standpoint that $100 million that you’re talking about for this year . . . is not a surplus . . . it is not something to be counted on in the future. And so it is not something to base policy on in any way shape or form,” said Akerly, who noted the department was being prudent for the future.

But Bump said that the policy isn’t based on dollar amounts.

“If the state decides not to fund this, I think it should be an honest statement that that’s their political decision, not because of a lack of funds,” said Bump.

Stumbling block ahead: Federal budget

Michigan’s slow recovery from a painful recession could soon hit a stumbling block: federal budget cuts.

A new report from the League and the Washington D.C. –based Coalition on Human Needs details the potential loss of needed programs and services that threaten to undermine our still-fragile economy.

At the top of the list – early childhood education, the one thing nearly all of us agree is needed to invest in our children’s futures and in our own economic survival. (more…)

McGregor Fund grant for economic security

Contact: Judy Putnam at (517) 487-5436
April 11, 2012

McGregor Fund supports economic security work


LANSING – The Detroit-based McGregor Fund has awarded a $40,000 grant to the Michigan League for Human Services to preserve and strengthen the social safety net.

The McGregor Fund is a private foundation established in 1925 by gifts from Katherine and Tracy McGregor “to relieve the misfortunes and promote the well-being of mankind.’’ (more…)

Commentary: Government is not the problem – nor is paying taxes for it

Public services. The water I showered with, the clear streets, the emergency vehicles, the treated water in which I downed my vitamins, my highway commute and the sense of community offered by the school, library and recreation center — all are made …  April 11, 2012 – The Detroit News

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