Reflections on the League

Lorenzo Santavicca

Lorenzo Santavicca

Reflecting on my time as an intern at the League this semester along with the spirit of thanksgiving, I’ve come to realize how fortunate I am to have my healthcare, a college degree that will hopefully afford me job opportunities and the services that I can rely on for safety in my community.

With a majority of my work centered on tax policy, I have realized how complex our systems to handle the state’s revenue are. I have especially been discouraged by the latest proposals in the U.S. House and Senate to grow the deficit by more than a trillion dollars that would negatively impact you and me. I’ve spent time looking at how our tax structure through personal and corporate income taxes in Michigan is unjust toward individuals and doesn’t do enough to ensure a fair share from those who pay. I’ve spent time looking at how sales taxes are critical to fund our basic services.

The work may seem daunting and discouraging. But without doubt, my time at the League has been enlightening, educational and empowering. I attended and supported the annual League Public Policy Forum this fall, which brought attention to how the decisions being made in Washington affect us locally. I was fortunate to partake in an evening session by the Citizen’s Research Council and their Public Policy dinner, where a panel of journalists discussed the trouble of the false “fake news” phenomenon.

Rachel Richards and Lorenzo Santavicca

Rachel Richards and Lorenzo Santavicca

In all, my classes at Michigan State University have only been supplemented by this first-hand experience in the field of public policy for the state, which makes me feel exponentially more equipped to tackle these big issues in my next endeavor. With a goal to attain a master’s degree in public policy and run for public office, I hope to come back to the roots I’ve grown at the League by utilizing good policy recommendations and hopefully implementing them through legislative action that will create a stronger Michigan for our residents.

I would urge anyone who is largely unaware of what the League does to consider your daily needs and resources around you: whether it’s your health, your job, education for your children, or the services in your community. It is because of the research and advocacy provided by the League that we are able to present a collective voice for those who may not have experience with government or who lack the time or resources to follow issues in general. We know that tactics politicians use to make some of the simplest decisions complex are tactics that prevent you and me from becoming engaged. We cannot continue to let these tactics hurt us in the long run.

With unending concern about stability for services and programs at the national level of our government, it is critical that we keep a steady pulse on our ability to engage with our elected representatives. I am thankful for the full-time work of this organization in Lansing, because without the League and its dedication to research, I can only imagine that our state wouldn’t be on the path to a stronger place than it is today. Consider supporting the League this holiday season through a donation, and keep involved with the work that the League does to stay informed.

I would especially like to thank Gilda Jacobs, Rachel Richards and Alicia Guevara Warren for bringing me on this semester as an intern for the League, and for the overwhelming support of everyone on the staff that helped make my work possible and worthwhile.

— Lorenzo Santavicca

New Kids Count report offers solutions on how to improve child well-being in Michigan

For Immediate Release
November 29, 2017

Alex Rossman

Policy blueprint for Michigan lawmakers would turn around abysmal national, regional rankings

LANSING—The well-being of Michigan’s kids has continued to decline and lag behind other states in recent years, hurting Michigan’s ability to be a competitive state and attract and retain talent, families and businesses. But there are many opportunities and bills before the Michigan Legislature right now to better support kids in the state, according to a new Kids Count report, Enhancing Child Well-Being in Michigan: A Guide to Improving KIDS COUNT Outcomes and Rankings, released today by the Michigan League for Public Policy.

The report was made possible by support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, an ongoing supporter of the League’s work in Michigan. For the report released today, the League looked at Michigan’s rankings in the 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book produced in June by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, crunched and compared numbers, connected the child well-being indicators to policies that can improve them, and set tangible data goals for legislators to strive for. Michigan’s national ranking of 41st in education (with 1st being the best) raised particular concern, but child poverty is also a major problem in the state.

“While we include policy recommendations in all of our work, this report goes a step further and sets concrete, data-driven measurable goals to support our kids and improve our national standing,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Many lawmakers look at Michigan’s rankings in the national KIDS COUNT Data Book and say, ‘Now what?’ Here are some real policy solutions they can pass to make a genuine difference.”

Overall, Michigan was ranked 32nd in child well-being in the 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book, finishing behind all other Great Lakes states: Minnesota (4th), Wisconsin (12th), Illinois (19th), Ohio (24th) and Indiana (28th).

The annual KIDS COUNT Data Book uses 16 indicators to rank all 50 states across four domains—health, education, economic well-being, and family and community—that represent what children need most to thrive. In the 2017 Data Book, Michigan received the following national rankings:

  • 31st in economic well-being. On par with the national average, 7 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds are not attending school or working.
  • 41st in education. Seventy-one percent of eighth-graders are performing below proficiency in math and 71 percent of fourth-graders are reading below proficiency.
  • 29th in family and community. Since 2009, the percentage of children living in high-poverty areas has remained unchanged at 17 percent.
  • 17th in health. A bright spot for Michigan is the percentage of children with health insurance. Thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act and the Healthy Michigan Plan, just 3 percent of Michigan children lack coverage, an improvement on the national average of 5 percent.

The Enhancing Child Well-Being in Michigan report builds on these rankings and quantifies how much Michigan would need to improve—and how many kids would need to be better served—to move Michigan’s national ranking up one or more spots, five or more spots, and what it would take for Michigan to be the No. 1 state (best) in the nation.

The report’s recommendations include broad strategies that should be applied to all policies affecting kids, like taking a two-generation approach to help children by helping their parents and applying a racial equity lens to all policies to reduce the significant disparities that exist in Michigan. It also urges the passage of legislation currently before the Legislature that could have an immediate impact, like raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction and restoring the state Earned Income Tax Credit. And finally, it recognizes positive, bipartisan movement that has already been made to help kids, like increased funding for students and schools with high rates of poverty and investments in child care in the current budget, and urges it to continue.

“This report covers all the policy bases and offers legislators a variety of helpful and realistic recommendations to make Michigan a more kid- and family-friendly state,” Guevara Warren said. “Lawmakers are always pointing to other states’ tax changes, economic incentives and even ad campaigns to try to emulate policies to make Michigan more marketable, but we really need greater investment in our state’s most valuable resource—our kids.”

Another recent national KIDS COUNT report produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2017 Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, looked at the KIDS COUNT indicators and child well-being by race and ethnicity. The report’s scores showed that African-American children in Michigan fare worse in key indicators than in any other state in the country and that children of color are doing worse than their White peers in nearly all indicators across education, health, family and community, and economic security. The Enhancing Child Well-Being in Michigan report also seeks to reduce these wide racial disparities and help make Michigan a better state for kids of color.


About the Kids Count in Michigan Project

The 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 Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Frey Foundation, Michigan Education Association, American Federation of Teachers Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, DTE Energy Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, Battle Creek Community Foundation and the Fetzer Institute.

The Michigan League for Public Policy,, 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.

Family-friendly policies, sweatpants and a space to ‘geek out’: What we’re thankful for this year

Ask anyone at the League what they’re thankful for, and it won’t take us long to think. We work for an organization whose values match our own. We work with colleagues who have heart. And we work with numbers. We really like numbers.

Here’s just a snapshot of what we’re grateful for right now:


Julie Cassidy

Julie Cassidy

Julie Cassidy, Policy Analyst

As a new parent, I’m thankful to work for an employer that provides paid leave for both mothers AND fathers and is so supportive of my family’s needs as we adjust to our new normal. Having flexible hours and a private, clean place to pump breastmilk, as well as being able to work from home on occasion, allow me to be a good worker and a good mom.



Victoria Crouse

Victoria Crouse

Victoria Crouse, Policy Fellow

This year, I’m thankful that my grandmother became a U.S. citizen and celebrated her 88th birthday this month! I’m also thankful for the team of hardworking and passionate advocates both at the League and across the state who tirelessly fight for the rights of all Michiganians.



Alicia Guevara Warren

Alicia Guevara Warren

Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count Director

First, I am grateful for my family, friends, community and wonderful co-workers. I appreciate all of the amazing child advocates working tirelessly throughout the state every day and our funders who help support our work to improve the lives of kids and families in Michigan!




Karen Holcomb-Merrill

Karen Holcomb-Merrill

Karen Holcomb-Merrill, Vice President

The last year has been rough for those of us who advocate for public policies that lift up our state’s most vulnerable residents. I’m so grateful for my colleagues at the League; they continue to work hard and to support one another during these times.





Gilda Z. Jacobs, President & CEO

Gilda Z. Jacobs

Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO

I’m thankful for the resilience of our amazing staff who get up every day to fight the good fight!





Phyllis Killips

Phyllis Killips

Phyllis Killips, Assistant to the President

I am thankful I was able to work part time for 24 years while raising my family and was still receiving health benefits, sick time and vacation benefits. Most jobs would not allow that.




Jenny Kinne

Jenny Kinne

Jenny Kinne, Community Engagement Director

I am thankful all of the amazing activists and leaders in my community who are tirelessly fighting for equity and justice. I am thankful for the courage I have witnessed and gained in this terrifying year.





Tillie Kucharek

Tillie Kucharek

Tillie Kucharek, Graphic Designer

This probably sounds like a cliché but I am grateful to have great, fun people to work with and interesting projects to challenge me. I also have a wonderful support system with my family and friends.





Mary Logan

Mary Logan

Mary Logan, Administrative Support

I am grateful that I am in the habit of contemplating every day about what I am grateful for!





Harriet McTigue

Harriet McTigue

Harriet McTigue, Kids Count Research Associate

I’m grateful for sweatpants, family and friends, young people running for office, carbs, dry shampoo, and Amy Poehler.





Laura Ross

Laura Ross

Laura Ross, Communications Associate

As someone who has worked directly with kids for most of my professional life, I’m so thankful to work with people who truly care about making Michigan a better place for all families, regardless of race, place or income. Though we’re living in contentious times when vitriolic tweets fly all around us, the League is a warm, comforting space where truth and equity are valued over politics and egotism. I’m incredibly grateful that I get to be part of this organization.



Alex Rossman

Alex Rossman

Alex Rossman, Communications Director

I’m thankful for my wonderful wife, family and friends; my smart and dedicated coworkers; the League’s amazing supporters, especially the people that read our blogs and like and share our social media posts to spread the word on our work; and elastic waistbands, Adam Sandler’s “Thanksgiving Song,” turkey naps and the fact that the Lions always play (and usually win) on Thanksgiving.



Rachel Richards

Rachel Richards

Rachel Richards, Legislative Coordinator

As a parent, aunt, and (much) older sister, I am grateful to work for an organization that not only examines–and tries to fix–what is going on in our state today but takes a long-view approach of those problems and solutions so we know that our children, and our children’s children, will be better off. (Plus it gives me an appropriate outlet to geek out on tax policy without boring my friends and family too much.)



Peter Ruark

Peter Ruark

Peter Ruark, Senior Policy Analyst

I’m grateful that I can come in every day to a job that I am passionate about, and that I see our positive influence on state policy on behalf of vulnerable populations.




Emily Schwarzkopf

Emily Schwarzkopf

Emily Schwarzkopf, Policy Analyst

I’m thankful for our partners in the Protect MI Care coalition who have helped us fight off four attempts (so far) to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And perhaps this is cliché, but I’m also thankful for my friends, family, and co-workers – they are simply the best and I am nothing without their love and support.




Carolyn Wreggelsworth

Carolyn Wreggelsworth

Carol Wreggelsworth, Bookkeeper

I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude for the help and comfort from friends and colleagues this past year. For me the assistance was a warm and bright ray of light representing good and caring people who are attentive to the struggle of others. Your caring gives me strength. Thank you so much, with blessings and great feelings of gratitude.




This Thanksgiving, Republicans in Congress offer a recipe for disaster

Regardless of how much you love your family, the holidays are always stressful. The turkey is either raw and salmonella-inducing or dry and burnt, someone always gets sick, at least one kid has a meltdown, and someone’s feelings inevitably get hurt. The holidays, as fun as they are, are always a little uncomfortable—even if it’s just from a tight-fitting waistline.

Politics often get brought up and tempers flare—and federal Republicans’ tax bill that is their “must-pass” bill of the year threatens to make it worse.

This tax bill is moving fast (it has already passed the U.S. House), and there’s a good reason for that. Congress wants you to focus on their lip-service rather than just how bad the bill is. Much like a relative’s Thanksgiving mystery dish, Republicans don’t want you to know what’s in it and are completely ignorant of how little it’ll actually be enjoyed by anyone.

This tax plan will not help most Michigan residents—and the people who need the most will get the least. The truth is that this deficit-increasing tax bill gives massive tax cuts to the wealthy and profitable corporations, provides little benefit to the rest of us, and puts important services we all rely on in jeopardy.

For example, in the first full year of implementation of the U.S. Senate’s bill, taxpayers in the top 1%—those making more than about $515,000 a year—would see an average tax cut of $46,100. On the other hand, taxpayers in the bottom 60% percent—those making less than about $70,000—would see an average tax cut of $390. In fact, some Michigan residents could even experience tax increases in order to pay for cuts to the wealthy and businesses. By 2027, taxes on low- and middle-income Michigan taxpayers would be raised while highest- income earners would still enjoy fairly sizable tax cuts. (For more information on how the tax plans will impact you, please head over to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy to check out their analyses of the U.S. House and Senate bills.)


What’s even more surprising is that the U.S. Senate bill fundamentally changes healthcare for our residents. The bill repeals the individual healthcare mandate to pay for huge corporate tax rate cuts. This “sneaky repeal” is just as bad as the “skinny repeal” that was defeated earlier this year. With this change, 398,000 Michigan residents will become uninsured by 2025, premiums on the marketplace would rise by $1,520 for a family of four, and Michigan could experience a cut to Medicare nearing $1 billion.

Finally, the tax plan would drastically increase the deficit to the tune of around $1.5 TRILLION. As the deficit grows, federal lawmakers will feel the pressure to “right-size” the budget, and, believe me, this would mean cuts felt by all of us. This would just mean fewer Michigan residents with healthcare, with access to high-quality educations, with safe roads and bridges, with food regularly on the table and in their cupboards, and with vibrant lives. So in the end, we all suffer to make the wealthiest more comfortable.

Over the past year, we’ve had to fight many uncomfortable fights. But I’m asking you to fight one more. We can do something about the uncomfortable situation we are all in.

Federal Republicans are hoping they can catch us sleeping from the tryptophan and sneak this bill through before we wake up to see what it really means for most of us. We need to call our federal lawmakers and ask them all to go back to the table and create a tax bill that works for everyone. We can support our lawmakers who continue to lift up the problems with this bill. We can show Congress just how uncomfortable this tax bill makes us all, and we can and must stop it.

— Rachel Richards, Legislative Coordinator

Michigan is letting African-American children fall through the cracks in our education system

Casey Paskus

Casey Paskus

All children deserve a quality education in order to reach their potential, but the 2017 Race for Results data shows that education equity is not a reality in Michigan. Children of historically underserved communities in Michigan, including African-American and Latino families, fared the worst in education indicators. Michigan’s children, especially our children of color, are being left behind on the national stage and we aren’t doing enough to help them.

According to the Race for Results Index for 2017, Michigan children of all racial and ethnic groups are falling behind their national peers in educational attainment, with Michigan’s African-American children coming in last in many educational indicator. Further, Michigan ranked 41st overall in educational outcomes in the national 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book.

Index scores mi and usWithin the state of Michigan, African-American children fared the worst overall on educational indicators. Only 4% of Michigan’s African-American children are reading at their grade level in fourth grade, and only 5% are performing grade-level math in eighth grade. These low scores for educational attainment are part of the reason for Michigan’s African-American children receiving the lowest child well-being score of all African-American children in the country.

Historical Legacies

The educational disparities between African-American children and other racial groups in Michigan stem from structural discrimination, including segregated housing practices that persist to this day. Throughout the 1960’s many historically white neighborhoods would refuse to allow African-American families to move in by writing neighborhood charters specifically excluding African-Americans. Historical legacies of segregation are still present today, and manifest in our school districts and school funding policies.

Predominantly African-American and immigrant areas have much lower property values, so schools in these areas receive less funds from property tax millages. Housing segregation and the resulting disparity in school funds persists today, as evidenced in the 2017 Race for Results data.

African-American children in Michigan are over 70% more likely to live in high-poverty areas where schools lack the resources to meet the needs of all students. These numbers are in stark contrast to the 82% of White Michigan children living in low-poverty areas and the 18% of White Michigan children living in high-poverty areas.

The 2017 Race for Results data can help us better understand the ways in which race and underfunded schools are inextricably linked because of legacies of segregated neighborhoods and the dependence of schools on property tax millages.

Education 9 percentSteps in the Right Direction

There is good news: Michigan has programs in place working to close the funding gap between schools in affluent areas and schools in struggling areas, and the legislature has approved increased funding for these programs for 2018.

Per-pupil funding will increase by $60-$120 per pupil, with more funding for districts with families of low income. The legislature also increased funding for the At-Risk School Aid program by $120 million. This program specifically assists school districts with a large number of children from families with low incomes who receive temporary cash or food assistance or who are homeless, who are disproportionately children of color.

More to Do

Despite these positive steps, there is much more work to do to ensure that children of color, especially African-American children, have equal access to quality education within Michigan. The state of Michigan must increase funding to schools that are struggling to make up for the disparity in property tax millages between affluent school districts and school districts with families of low income.

Many creative solutions to educational disparities and underfunding are coming from grassroots community organizing. Detroit-based group 482 Forward is a coalition of neighborhood organizations, parents, and youth working together to make sure that all children of Detroit have access to a quality education, regardless of socioeconomic status or race.

Lawmakers should look to local, community-led groups such as 482 Forward for a better understanding of bottom-up strategies to combat structural inequities and economic disparities to better support all children in Michigan, particularly children of color.

— Casey Paskus, Kids Count Intern

Nowhere to go but up on racial equity

I had the privilege recently of chaperoning my daughter’s fourth-grade class to our local children’s museum for two days in a row. Wow, they are amazing little people, who are also full of an enormous amount of energy (Thank you to all the teachers who care for these kiddos every day of the school year!).

"Kids Count Director Alicia Guevara Warren hopes to watch her daughter grow up in an equitable world."

“Kids Count Director Alicia Guevara Warren hopes to watch her daughter grow up in an equitable world.”

Our school district is one of the most diverse districts in the state—something we are very proud of! As a woman of color raising a child of color who has friends of many backgrounds (and as a data geek), I couldn’t help but think about all of the data on racial disparities as I observed this group of bright and curious elementary students. The experience magnified for me the importance of working to help implement strategies to start changing outcomes for all kids, but especially for kids of color who disproportionately face barriers to opportunity.

A report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and national KIDS COUNT project, Race for Results, revealed some very disturbing information: African-American kids in Michigan fare worse in child well-being than their peers in every other state in the country. That’s right, worse than Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alabama—states that all fall in the bottom rankings nationally for overall child well-being. Out of a child well-being index score of up to 1,000, African-American kids in Michigan score 260, while the national average—albeit troubling as well—was 369. That’s a difference of over a hundred.

When we look at how most kids of color in Michigan fare compared to their White peers, not only are their index scores significantly lower, but their well-being by key milestones in early childhood, education and early work experiences, family resources and neighborhood context are also worse. How did we get here and how do we change this?

A quick look at history shows how many disparities were created and perpetuated over time. And many of today’s policy decisions have led to the overrepresentation of people and kids of color in the child welfare and justice systems, disparate job and educational opportunities and unfair targeting in immigration policies. This has to change. Michigan’s future depends on how well we care for all children, and that includes eliminating current racial and ethnic disparities that appear in just about every indicator of child well-being.

UpdatedMI_RaceForResults_social-index-state_v4We need to urge our policymakers—at all levels of government—to use a racial and ethnic equity lens to review current and proposed policies. Some local governments in Michigan, like Grand Rapids and Washtenaw County, have started taking those steps by joining the Government Alliance on Racial Equity to use tools to address and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in their communities.

As child advocates we can also support efforts like “Raise the Age” to address racial disparities in the justice system. The most recent figures show that while kids of color make-up only 23% of the 17-year-old population in Michigan, they are 53% of the total number of 17-year-olds entering our state’s corrections system. By raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years old, we can ensure that kids are treated like kids and receive age-appropriate treatment and services and begin reducing the lifelong consequences that these youth of color endure with an adult criminal record. This is only one example of how we can start addressing disparities in outcomes for kids of color. There are many others.

My community is important to me—as yours is to you! I want to be sure that as I’m watching my daughter and her classmates grow up that we are doing our best to implement solutions that work to remove barriers for children and families of color, so that all of our kids have access to better opportunities to reach their potential, and so that Michigan is stronger and better for everyone.

— Alicia Guevara-Warren, Kids Count in Michigan Project Director 

A message of gratitude: We’re in this together

From the First Tuesday newsletter
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Community. As we prepare to give thanks for all we have this month, I would like to take time to show gratitude for you, our League community. On a rainy October afternoon, hundreds of you gathered at our annual policy forum to share ideas, learn from experts and move forward with a common goal. The work we do each day at the League would not be possible without the strong community of support we have in you!

At the forum, keynote speaker Bob Greenstein from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities warned of the dangers in assuming that tax cuts will fuel growth. We’ve seen time after time after time that this is not the case.

We are exceedingly grateful to the sponsor, panelists, speakers and attendees who helped make this year's policy forum a great success.

We are exceedingly grateful to the sponsors, panelists, speakers and attendees who helped make this year’s policy forum a great success.


When we received word of the new U.S. House tax plan last Thursday, we reflected on Bob’s warning, fearing that the passage of such a dangerous plan could come to fruition quite easily during these tumultuous political times. It would be tempting to succumb to these fears and turn them to defeat. But that’s not what we do. What we do is fight. Which brings me back to you. To our community.

After laying out the dangers of conservative tax policies, Bob closed his address with the following statement. And it’s this statement we choose to heed when faced with harmful policies:

“We need citizen engagement to fight these new tax plans, just as we had with fighting for the Affordable Care Act,” he said. And he’s 100 percent accurate.

It’s that high level of engagement that will save us from these disastrous policies, and l know that you, our community, will do all it takes to keep the people of Michigan at the forefront of your minds, just as we do each day in our work. Rather than become mired in negativity, we must unite and fight for what we know is best. Whether you support us by writing a check, talking to your legislator or following us on social media, you are helping to fight for Michiganians.

So this Thanksgiving, we thank you. We thank you for coming together with a common vision to support the work we do at the League. We thank you for keeping your sights on the future, which we know can be bright for all Michiganians. We thank you for being part of this very special community.

— Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO

U.S. House tax plan: Benefit for richest 1 percent in Michigan grows over time

For Immediate Release
November 6, 2017

Alex Rossman

LANSING—A new 50-state analysis of the House tax plan released by Congress last week reveals that in Michigan the wealthiest 1 percent of Michiganians will receive the greatest share of the total tax cut in year one and their share would grow through 2027. Further, the value of the tax cut would decline over time for every income group in Michigan except the very richest.

House leadership continues to tout this tax proposal, which will increase the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, as a plan to boost the middle class. But a closer examination of the bill’s provisions reveals that it is laser-focused on tax cuts for the nation’s highest earning households. The wealthiest Michiganians’ share of Michigan’s tax cuts would grow over time due to phase-ins of tax cuts that mostly benefit the rich and the eventual elimination or erosion in value of provisions that benefit low- and middle-income taxpayers. For example, after five years, the bill eliminates a $300 non-child dependent credit that benefits low- and middle-income families while fully repealing the estate tax in year six for the very large estates subject to the tax.

More specifically, the 10-year outlook for the plan reveals that by 2027, the top 1 percent of households in Michigan’s share of the tax cut would increase from 33 percent in 2018 to 47 percent by 2027, for an average cut of $77,380. Middle-income taxpayers’ average tax cut would erode to $590 in 2027 from $730 in 2018, and the poorest 20 percent’s average tax cut would decline from $110 in 2018 to $100 in 2027.

“This bill may cut taxes for some low- and middle-income households, but it also raises taxes on some of these families and many others will see no benefit at all. But let’s be clear: it is still the case that this plan will primarily benefit the rich, across the nation and in Michigan,” said Karen Holcomb-Merrill, Vice President of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “We have sent our elected officials to the nation’s capital to represent us, but what they are saying is just as important as what they are not saying. These tax cuts that mostly benefit top earners will add to the nation’s annual deficits and come at the expense of low- and middle-income families who will likely lose more from cuts to education, healthcare, infrastructure or other public services than they gain from the small cuts they would receive.”

Following are some highlights of how the plan specifically affects Michigan:

  • Richest 1 percent of Michigan taxpayers would receive largest tax cut as a share of income under the House tax proposal in 2018 and 2027.
  • The share of low- and middle-income Michigan taxpayers seeing a tax hike under the House proposal increases between 2018 and 2027.
  • Average tax cuts to top 1 percent of Michigan taxpayers dwarf those going to all other income groups under the House tax proposal in 2018 and 2027.

To read the entire report or get more details about Michigan, go to


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, 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.

Personalizing politics: Putting narratives at the forefront

Lorenzo Santavicca

Lorenzo Santavicca

At a time when we are more connected by online profiles and other technological means of communication, an unintended consequence is that we have become increasingly disconnected in listening and empathizing with one another in person. Many of our politics today—both in Lansing and Washington—are undercutting values that are a cornerstone to our democracy: listening to each other in the process of lawmaking.

By invitation, I recently participated in an inaugural summit called the “Intercollegiate Diversity Congress at the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation. I attended in my capacity as Student Body President at Michigan State University. Dedicated to indexing testimonies in our world history, the Foundation currently has stocked more than 55,000 video testimonies, a bulk of them that particularly expound on the Holocaust and the Rwandan Genocide. The Foundation’s work in compiling these stories serves as a powerful reminder that we all have a story to tell and a narrative that we live. Our stories cannot be taken away from us, nor invalidated by someone else’s poor policy proposals in a position of political power.

The summit hosted over 20 student leaders from around the country to brainstorm and strategize how we can foster a better culture of active listening with one another and the power of storytelling that follows. Most importantly, we discussed what it means to arrive at disagreement in dialogue in a civil manner, which is especially important in these polarizing times. I could not be more thankful to have been a part of this conference, considering our desperate societal need to reach out and listen to our peers, whether we agree with them or not.

League intern and MSU Student Body President Lorenzo Santavicca joins other members of the Intercollegiate Diversity Congress

League intern and MSU Student Body President Lorenzo Santavicca joins other members of the Intercollegiate Diversity Congress

Through my work at the Michigan League for Public Policy, I have already seen the power of storytelling influencing the ways in which policy faces scrutiny, feedback, and even an end without moving on through the legislative process. A notable example is the consistent measures taken by Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Our ability to push back on the efforts of repealing healthcare through Congress was largely surrounded by discourse by fellow Americans on how the changes would affect their personal health, or someone they loved.

Another challenge to our society, but seemingly less controversial than healthcare, is jobs. One of the participants of the conference was a student leader from West Virginia University. His sentiments during a session of the conference referenced the stereotypes about coal jobs in his home state. While he mentioned that West Virginia largely supported President Donald Trump because of his unwavering support of the coal industry, he indicated that many individuals have expressed interest to find other jobs outside of the coal industry. However, due to a lack of education and other employers for the state, many of these workers are limited to believe their working potential is strictly within the coal industry.

It seemed to be that individuals in his state were largely fooled by politicians to believe that the best route forward continues to be in the coal industry, even at a time when China and other world superpowers are pulling back from this age-old natural resource. Though Michigan’s industries are different from West Virginia’s, we, too, face challenges in job growth. Specifically with respect to Michigan’s economy, we continue to see a need for greater state support to fund our higher education programs that encourage more individuals to obtain higher diplomas and degrees.

As individuals, we must continue personalizing our politics, and understand that every decision taken by elected officials will affect someone else differently. If we’re able to better understand and listen to the needs of voices, like blue collar laborers who are led to believe their industry is going to survive beyond generations, or the ones that are living on food assistance and face threats from the state with little funding support going forward, we might be able to make a change to support the overall well-being for our state’s economy.

— Lorenzo Santavicca, Intern

Trump, U.S House’s tax plan raises wall between millionaires and struggling families

For Immediate Release
November 3, 2017

Alex Rossman

Extremely wealthy get six-figure tax break, residents barely getting by get $70

LANSING—The United States House of Representatives announced their Trump-approved tax plan yesterday that will benefit the wealthy, widen income disparity in Michigan, and set up a ballooning federal deficit and drastic budget cuts that will hurt our kids, families, schools and communities.

“This isn’t a tax plan, it’s a tax ploy. President Trump and congressional Republicans say their plan is about helping you, but it’s really about helping their political cronies and the richest of the rich pad their pockets,” said Karen Holcomb-Merrill, Vice President of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “The budget was a Trojan Horse to sneak in this dangerous tax plan. The real severe cuts are coming later, likely costing most Michigan residents far more in their quality of life than anything the tax plan would give them.”

“The plan will add at least $1.5 trillion in debt—and to pay for it, some Republicans in Congress have made clear they will try next year to cut everything from nutrition assistance for struggling families to education and healthcare. Worse still, by eliminating the state income tax deduction and shifting new costs to states, the plan would put more pressure on Michigan’s budget, likely causing even more cuts to education, transportation and other programs Michiganians count on,” Holcomb-Merrill said.

The Michigan League for Public Policy has analyzed the Republicans’ federal tax plan and put together a new fact sheet on what it really means for Michigan residents. The League has previously written about the top threats to Michigan in the federal budget, and an analysis by the League shows that Michigan is the second-most reliant on federal funds in the U.S., with 42 percent of our state budget coming from federal funds.

The budget set up a fast-track, partisan process for passing the Republican tax plan with just 51 votes—the same process the Senate used to try to force through their repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) analyzed the earlier Republican tax plan and found that it would overwhelmingly benefit those at the top of the economic ladder: the top 1 percent in Michigan would receive 62.5 percent of the tax cuts while the bottom 20 percent of Michiganians would get just 1.1 percent. Michigan households that make over a million dollars each year (only .2 percent of Michigan’s population) would see an average tax cut of $253,500, ITEP found. The middle fifth of households in Michigan, people who are literally the state’s “middle class,” would receive just 7.1 percent of the tax cuts that go to Michigan under the framework at an average of $440. And the bottom 20 percent of Michiganians would only see 1.1 percent of the tax cuts—or an average of $70.

“This tax plan does more for the wealthy in death than it does for working families’ daily lives, compounding the struggles of people in poverty,” Holcomb-Merrill said. “This plan will not create jobs, improve local economies, or help a majority of Michigan residents, and we hope the House chooses to scrap this foolish plan and creates one that helps all Americans, not just wealthy taxpayers and profitable corporations.”


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, 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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