Annual Report 2014

2014 Highlights: Progress despite challenges

Despite continuing economic challenges in Michigan in 2014, notable progress was made on policies to improve the lives of the state’s low- and modest-income families.

The Michigan League for Public Policy played a key role in a positioning the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit for an increase, which will help more than 1 million children in Michigan and boost incomes of 800,000 families earning the least.

At the end of 2014, lawmakers and the administration reached a compromise on a road funding plan. If voters approve a sales tax increase with revenue earmarked for road repairs, the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit will rise to 20% of the federal credit. The tax credit was included to offset the sales tax increase impact on those working families earning the least.

The League has been the chief advocate for the tax credit and worked with candidates in the fall election to highlight the impact in each legislative district resulting from the 2011 decision to cut the credit to 6% of the federal credit. The League supported the credit with strategic information to policymakers, policy briefs, interactive graphics as well as the legislative district fact sheets.

Among other accomplishments, the League:

  • Supported the push for a higher minimum wage with high-quality analysis and infographics. Lawmakers increased the wage to $8.15 in 2014, rising to $9.25 by 2018.
  • Successfully held an income tax rollback at bay.
  • Embedded race equity broadly in the League’s work.
  • Worked with Priorities Michigan to promote better budget priorities in the state.
  • Highlighted the lack of child care inspectors in Michigan and the inadequate child care subsidies. The governor’s 2016 budget reflects $6 million for more inspectors.
  • Created a popular online calculator, Making Ends Meet in Michigan, which shows how much you need to earn to cover basic needs.
  • Inspired introduction of legislation to fix the gap in financial aid grants for adults wishing to attend public colleges and universities. The executive budget for 2016 restores $6 million in such grants.
  • Convened a work group on mass incarceration and held a well-attended forum on solutions to reducing prison sentences.
  • Highlighted gains in the state budget with the widely used Budget Briefs project, including funding for 10,000 additional children in preschool.
  • Illuminated shortfalls in education funding, and drew widespread attention to a plan, later scuttled, that would have diverted revenue from classrooms to pay for roads.
  • Weighed in on mandatory retention for third-graders not proficient in reading. Through testimony, meetings with lawmakers and a policy brief, the League promoted strategic interventions. The governor’s budget includes $49 million for such efforts.
  • Advocated for clean energy to improve health of residents of lower-income neighborhoods.

Message from the President & CEO, Gilda Z. Jacobs

Thanks to you — donors, funders, members and friends – the League’s advocacy, outreach and communications have grown stronger and more strategically targeted than ever. The League continues to play a very effective role in improving public policy in Michigan, and our reputation for accurate, accessible and timely Information remains very strong.

Our commitment to improving the lives of economically vulnerable people in our state is unwavering.

In 2014, we saw years of advocacy for the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit pay off with the inclusion of the credit as part of a package on the road funding that will go before voters in May 2015. This has been a hard-fought victory.

In 2014, our outreach connected with faith leaders, nonprofits and workers in every corner of the state and our advocacy work around the state budget has been strengthened with our popular Budget Briefs series that provides budget information as it happens, allowing testimony in time to make a difference.

The year 2014 was also a year of milestones.

The League’s Kids Count in Michigan project helped celebrate the 25th anniversary of KIDS COUNT. The League is proud to part of this national network that works to improve the lives of all children.

And the League was part of the 20 year celebration of the State Priorities Partnership, a national network of network of more than 40 independent, nonprofit research and policy organizations. And the League’s partnerships with Economic Analysis Research Network, Working Poor Families Project and with Families USA means Michigan benefits from broad national expertise on key issues.

In addition to the strength gained from our national leaders, the League has exceptional leadership and expertise on the state level.

Our board of directors includes two former budget directors, four former lawmakers, a former state Treasurer, and nonprofit leaders from across the state. Robert Swanson, our current board president, retired in 2007 as director of the Department of Labor and Economic Growth and he serves as a member of the Civil Service Commission.

Our year-end fundraising exceeded the target of $20,000 for a Rapid Response Fund. In all, we raised $80,000! Many of our grants do not allow lobbying so it’s critical to our advocacy work that we raise these dollars from individual donors. Thanks to the many of you who contributed.

As you look over this report, I hope you’ll spend some time reviewing our policy agenda, Building a Stronger Michigan, which was completed at the end of 2014. We plan to use this document going forward to target our efforts to make Michigan a place of economic opportunity for all.

Thanks to you, all of this is possible.

Board of Directors


Robert W. Swanson, BOARD CHAIR
Retired Director, Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth

Former State Legislator

Charles L. Ballard, Ph.D., VICE-CHAIR
Department of Economics, Michigan State University

Former State Budget Director

Delois Whitaker Caldwell, MEMBER-AT-LARGE
Retired President & CEO
Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit

Former State Budget Director


Ann Andrews, Vice President
Disability Claims Specialists
L & S Associates, Inc.

Richard Ball, O.D., Ph.D.
Former State Legislator

Georgi-Ann Bargamian, Educational Director
International Union – UAW

Sheilah P. Clay, President & CEO
Neighborhood Service Organization

Robert Cohen, Executive Director
Jewish Community Relations Council & Michigan Jewish Conference

Lee Gaddies, Legislative Chair
12th Precinct Neighborhood Coalition

Sonia Harb, Director
Technical Assistance Center
University of Michigan—School of Social Work

David Hecker, President
AFT Michigan

B. Daniel Inquilla, Attorney
Farmworker Legal Services of Michigan

Robert Kleine
Former State Treasurer

Eric T. Mayes, Ph.D., Ed.M.
Assistant Professor
Johns Hopkins University

Jennifer R. Poteat
Harry A. & Margaret D. Towsley Foundation

Charles Pryde, Regional Director
Government Affairs
Ford Motor Company

Sarida Scott, Executive Director
Community Development Advocates of Detroit

Kevin L. Seitz, Retired, Executive Vice President
Health Care Value Enhancement
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Mary Alice Williams, Former President & CEO
Nokomis Foundation

League Staff

Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO

Jackie Benson, Receptionist/Membership Associate
Paul Diefenbach, Data Analyst
Karen Holcomb-Merrill, Vice President
Jan Hudson, Senior Policy Analyst
Phyllis Killips, Assistant to the President
Tillie Kucharek, Graphic Designer
Yannet Lathrop, Policy Analyst
Mary Logan, Administrative Support Staff
Shannon Nobles, Outreach Specialist
Judy Putnam, Communications Director
Peter Ruark, Senior Policy Analyst
Danielle Smith, Prosperity Coalition Coordinator
Pat Sorenson, Senior Policy Analyst
Alicia Guevara Warren, Tax Policy Analyst
Renell Weathers, Outreach Director
Ben Wells, Insurance Associate
Lawrence Wells, Chief Operating Officer
Jane Zehnder-Merrell, Kids Count Project Director

Contributors list is included in the PDF