Macomb Daily: Need for subsidized school meals still substantial

The number of students attending classes at Macomb County’s 21 public school districts that receive a free or reduced lunch appears to be on the decline. April 26, 2014 — Macomb Daily

We’re 115 days late

Today is Michigan’s Equal Pay Day, marking how far into the 2014 calendar Michigan women must work in order to earn what men earned in 2013. (The National Equal Pay Day was April 8.)

States observe their own Equal Pay Day relative to the federal day based on how much their pay equity gap diverges from the gap nationwide. Michigan observes the day more than a week later because our state’s wage gap is the 7th widest in the nation. Michigan women earn 73.7 cents for every dollar that men earn, compared with 90.3 cents in the District of Columbia (and at the lowest end, 63.8 cents in Wyoming). (more…)

Free meals for kids in high-poverty schools


Contact: Justin Rumenapp ( or Marybeth Laisure ( at the Center for Civil Justice, (810) 244-8044 or
Judy Putnam ( at the Michigan League for Public Policy, (517) 487-5436

Schools in low-income areas may offer free breakfast and lunch this fall

FLINT, Mich. – A total of 822 schools located in high-poverty areas have the option to offer school lunches and breakfasts to all students at no charge this fall. The lunches and breakfasts will be offered as part of what is known as the Community Eligibility Provision, or CEP, and the Michigan Department of Education is taking applications through June 30. While the main goal of CEP is to reduce hunger among at-risk student populations, the provision also helps to reduce school paperwork and erase meal debt.

“When schools offer meals to all students, it’s really a benefit to all stakeholders,” said Marybeth Laisure, Center for Civil Justice’s Child Nutrition Director. “Children are better prepared to learn on full stomachs, and teachers report fewer behavioral outbursts.” (more…)

Michigan Radio: Growing up in poverty and pollution

In Michigan, thousands of kids suffer with diseases that are worsened by poverty and pollution. It’s a combination that’s costing society far more than most people know.

What issues do health experts think are causing these problems? Why haven’t policy-makers come up with the money to fix these problems? What is the price of allowing these problems go ignored? We’ll answer these questions in this hour long documentary, Growing Up in Poverty and Pollution. April 24, 2014 — Michigan Radio

Cuts to Michigan EITC Raise Taxes on Working Families

Full report in PDF

As a result of the reduction in the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit, taxes were increased on low-income working families by $247 million in 2012, according to new data from the Michigan Department of Treasury.

One of the most effective tools for supporting working families and reducing poverty—the Michigan EITC—was cut by 70% as a result of major tax changes that took place in 2011. The Michigan Legislature and Gov. Snyder reduced Michigan’s EITC from 20% of the federal EITC to 6%. Most EITC recipients claim the credit only temporarily when a job disruption or other significant event reduces their income. A recent study found that, of people who received the EITC over an 18-year period, 61% received the credit for only one or two years at a time. The EITC has also been shown to have a long-lasting, positive effect on children, helping them do better and go farther in school. The EITC also increases work effort and expands Michigan’s economy.

The EITC provides working families with additional options for housing, child care, and transportation so that the family can remain in the labor force and take steps toward self-sufficiency. Reducing the EITC from 20% to 6% pushed working families into poverty or deeper into poverty.

Can you talk effectively about the state budget?

As many of us know, it is not just about what you say, but how you say it.

We can agree that the state budget is an important issue, but often times eyes glaze over when we talk about it. This can be because people do not understand the budget and find it much more enthralling to talk policy.

However, it is important to realize that most policy decisions are made through the budget process. For example, you cannot create policy on education, without first knowing how much money will be allocated towards the area for each budget year. Creating that budget is the first step. (more…)

80-mile walk

On this cool, windy spring morning I joined other advocates to show support for the youth who walked the 80 miles from Detroit to the Capitol steps in Lansing to express their concerns with Michigan’s zero tolerance policies and the impact on their lives.

Michael Reynolds, an organizer of the 80- mile event, said zero tolerance policies are "kicking good kids out of school.''

For the uninitiated, “zero tolerance” in this context refers to those education policies that mandate automatic suspension or expulsion for offenses deemed a threat to the safety of other students or school staff. The big problem in Michigan is that the list of such offenses now includes relatively minor infractions such as not having a school ID badge or wearing clothing that doesn’t adhere to the uniform code, according to the students who spoke this morning.

“I hope that legislators understand that youth around Michigan want to modify zero tolerance, and we’re willing to walk 80 miles to show it,” said Michael Reynolds, co-president of Youth First and an organizer of the march.

In 1995, Michigan enacted a series of laws in response to the federal Gun Free Schools Act of 1994 that required expulsion for at least one year any student who brought a weapon onto school property. Unfortunately Michigan legislators enacted some of the most stringent policies in the country by expanding the list of “expulsion” offenses to include assault whether or not a weapon was involved, verbal “assaults,” vandalism, disobedience and an expansive definition of “weapon” that included toys and plastic knives. (more…)

Daily Tribune: South Oakland’s free and reduced lunch on decline

The number of students attending classes at South Oakland County’s eight public school districts that receive a free or reduced lunch appears to be on the decline, but not by much, according to fall data collected by the Center for Educational Performance and Information. April 22, 2014 — Daily Tribune

Lansing State Journal: CATA drivers annual food drive will benefit Greater Lansing Food Bank

Ron Smedley pushed his shopping cart up to a bus parked outside an East Lansing Kroger store and handed over some canned foods.

He tries to give to food drives through work. So when Smedley, of Lansing, saw the Capital Area Transportation Authority bus outside of the grocery store — its electronic sign flashing “FOOD DRIVE TODAY” — he saw an opportunity to help. April 19, 2014 — Lansing State Journal

Michigan a ‘comeback state’ — for whom?

Meghan Muffett

Meghan Muffett

With much talk about Michigan as a “comeback state,’’ it’s important to delve a little deeper to answer the question – a comeback state, for whom?

It’s certainly not a comeback state for Lori, an older worker with a part-time retail job in the Lansing area. Like many others, she struggles with an income that barely covers the bills.

According to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, inflation-adjusted income in Michigan doubled for those at the very top – the top 1% — while falling a bit for the rest of us between 1979 and 2007. (more…)

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