News Releases

Expanding overtime will help more Michigan workers make ends meet

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on today’s federal rule change expanding the eligibility for overtime of salaried works. The League wrote a blog on this issue when it was announced last summer: www.mlpp.org/overtime-rules-just-got-better. The League also compiles a report entitled Making Ends Meet that lists the salaries that  different workers need to make ends meet by county, and also provides a calculator. The statement may be attributed to League President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“Our focus at the Michigan League for Public Policy is to ensure economic security and well-being for all, and this important change to overtime rules at the federal level will do just that. Right now, low-wage salaried workers who are only earning a few thousand dollars more than the poverty level are ineligible for overtime. At the same time, many lower-paying industries like food service and retail are often the same ones where workers’ weekly hours regularly exceed 40. For too many workers in too many fields, working more than 40 hours a week has become the expectation, not the exception, and with no additional pay. People work to make a living, but too many people with full-time jobs are still struggling to get by. This rule change will improve worker pay and enable more people to better support their families, reducing the number of working people who are still depending on government assistance to get by.

“For 2014, we calculated that a single parent in Michigan with two kids needs to earn a salary of $44,164 to make ends meet and cover their food, housing, healthcare, child care, transportation and other costs. In Michigan, households with two working parents and two small children have to collectively earn over $52,000 annually. The more than 100,000 Michigan workers who would be affected by this overtime change are the people who are working but still barely getting by. I am glad to see President Obama take this action.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, 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.

Low revenues stress need to help struggling Michiganians, review billions in tax expenditures

For Immediate Release
May 17, 2016

Contact: Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on lower state revenue estimates announced at today’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference. The League also released a report today, Review Tax Expenditures to Help Fix Michigan’s Broken Revenue Stream, offering a solution to the state’s money woes. The League’s budget priorities, including expanding child care assistance, can be found at www.mlpp.org/state-budget. The statement may be attributed to League President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“These numbers are down in large part because people are still struggling and not spending, and today’s estimates underscore the need to help lift up more workers and families to boost our economy. In the coming weeks, the League urges legislators to help residents and stretch state dollars by leveraging federal funds in the 2017 budget. By continuing the House’s commitment to resolve the Heat and Eat issue with an investment of $3.2 million in state funds, we can bring in $138 million in federal dollars to help 150,000 households. Additionally, increasing the income eligibility for child care subsidies—at essentially no state cost—will help low-wage families with young children find and keep jobs. While the budget numbers are lower, the priorities should be the same, and I hope no lawmaker uses this news as a justification to turn their backs on the children of Flint, Detroit and communities around the state.

“This fiscal instability also demands a longer view of our state budget and revenue streams. Our new report released today shows that the state currently spends around $35 billion in state and local tax breaks each year, and a majority are written into law for perpetuity without ever being revisited. By reviewing and evaluating these tax expenditures and eliminating outdated and ones that no longer serve the public good, legislators could immediately and substantially resolve our state revenue issues.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, 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.

 

Statement: League applauds legislative action to support justice-involved kids, improve rehabilitation

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement in praise of the Michigan House of Representatives’ bipartisan passage of “raise the age” legislation to treat justice-involved 17-year-olds as juveniles, in sentencing, treatment and services, and placement. The League has been a strong advocate for this legislation and the positive impact it will have on Michigan youth and their futures. The League will continue to advocate for other prison reforms, issuing a report on Monday that noted Michigan has one of the highest rates of kids with incarcerated parents in the country. The statement may be attributed to League Vice President Karen Holcomb-Merrill.

“The League is extremely pleased to see action on this important legislation today to stop treating all justice-involved 17-year-olds as adults. Sentencing kids as adults—especially nonviolent or first-time offenders—greatly harms their chance at rehabilitation. Treating these kids like adults makes them 34 percent more likely to reoffend, and having a prison record is detrimental to their future education, employment, housing and relationships. These are impressionable, still-developing kids and will rightfully be treated as such, getting the age-appropriate treatment that we know is effective and will improve their long-term outcomes.

“Michigan was one of the few states in the country that had yet to tackle this issue, and we appreciate the House’s recognition of the importance of it today. We want to thank Representative Santana for his leadership on this issue, the bill sponsors, Representative Heise and members of the House Criminal Justice Committee, and Speaker Cotter for their commitment, and the many other organizations who we have worked alongside to see this legislation passed. We urge the Senate to continue this bipartisan momentum and act swiftly to better protect Michigan’s kids.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, 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.

New report shows Michigan has third highest percentage nationally of children with a parent who has been incarcerated, 1 in 10 kids impacted

For Immediate Release
Monday, April 25, 2016

Contact:
Alex Rossman or Alicia Guevara Warren
517.487.5436
arossman@mlpp.org or aliciagw@mlpp.org

 

More than 5.1 million U.S. children and 228,000 children in Michigan have had a parent who served time

LANSING, MICH.–A new report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation today revealed that 228,000 children in Michigan, or 1 in 10 children, have had a parent incarcerated, out of more than 5 million nationally. Only Indiana and Kentucky have a higher percentage.

According to the report, A Shared Sentence: The Devastating Toll of Parental Incarceration on Kids, Families and Communities, Michigan has the fifth largest population of kids who have had a parent incarcerated, behind California (503,000), Texas (477,000), Florida (312,000) and Ohio (271,000).

According to the report, incarceration continues to devastate families of color in particular, as African-American kids are seven times more likely and Latino kids are three times more likely to have a parent incarcerated than their white peers. Research shows that having an incarcerated parent can have as much impact on a child’s well-being as abuse or domestic violence.

“For too long, Michigan’s outdated corrections policies have been hurting our economy and our state budget and this report shows that they’re doing the same to our families and kids,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Having an incarcerated parent past or present is a traumatic experience that can lead to increased poverty, stress and unstable environments, affecting kids’ health and academic performance.”

While Michigan spends heavily on corrections, including more than it spends on higher education, few resources exist to support family members left behind. Although the issue of mass incarceration has received more attention from policymakers, advocates and activists recently, the needs of children who face increased risks and significant obstacles in life are usually overlooked.

“Having a parent in prison causes economic, social and personal strife for kids and there are currently little to no efforts to address this,” said Mary King, executive director for the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency. “There are more than a quarter of a million kids struggling with an incarcerated parent in Michigan, and that number is too high for them to continue to be disregarded. We have to address this issue from both sides—working to pass reforms to reduce incarceration in the first place, and addressing the necessary supports to help these kids through difficult times and connect their parents with the proper job and education training assistance upon their return.”

The report’s three policy recommendations are:

  1. Ensure children are supported while parents are incarcerated and after they return.
  2. Connect parents who have returned to the community with pathways to employment.
  3. Strengthen communities, particularly those disproportionately affected by incarceration and reentry, to promote family stability and opportunity

“When people are sent to prison and taken away from their families, their kids are being punished, too,” said Guevara Warren. “There are many alternatives to incarceration that will better serve the individuals and their kids, but too many policymakers are more concerned with optics than logic.”

The report also reiterates the need for Michigan policymakers to tackle the following:

  • Direct more funds toward prison education and training for in-demand jobs for incarcerated individuals.
  • Minimize the negative effects of a criminal record once a parent has successfully reentered society through “ban the box” policies.
  • Facilitate access for affected families to financial, legal, child care and housing assistance.
  • Enable families impacted by incarceration to access Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs to cover basic needs and become self-sufficient, including revisiting the state’s limitations on assistance for certain convicted drug felons.
  • Provide incentives to housing authorities and private landlords to allow people with criminal records to access safe, affordable housing.

“Our nation’s overreliance on incarceration has left millions of children poorer, less stable and emotionally cut off from the most important relationship of their young lives,” says Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation. “We are calling on states and communities to act now, so that these kids—like all kids—have equal opportunity and a fair chance for the bright future they deserve.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, 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.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. For more information, visit www.aecf.org.

Statement: League supports House budget effort to address Heat and Eat exclusion, return support to 150,000 households

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the Michigan House Appropriations Committee’s inclusion of $3.2 million in the General Omnibus Budget today to fix the Heat and Eat policy that reduced federal support for approximately 150,000 households, including the elderly and persons with disabilities. The League has been working with lawmakers to find resolution for this problem for several years as it is a very cost-effective way to help low-income individuals while leveraging federal funds. The statement may be attributed to League President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“I am gratified by the House Appropriations Committee’s action today to address this issue that for too long has kept food off Michigan families’ tables and federal dollars in Washington. This is a prime example of how goodwill and good fiscal sense can meet, with an investment of $3.2 million in state funds bringing in $138 million in federal dollars to help 150,000 households. Since 2014, Michigan has been one of only a handful of states that did not provide the additional funds needed to comply with federal changes to the Heat and Eat program and maintain food benefits. Today’s action corrects that decision to the benefit of some very high-need households in Michigan who already struggle to purchase enough food monthly, and we hope this bold action is upheld until this budget is on the governor’s desk.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, 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.

Statement: League encouraged by governor’s proposal to remove lead service lines statewide

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING —The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on Governor Rick Snyder’s proposal today to replace all lead service lines from the state’s public water systems. The League has been focused on the Flint water crisis and the policy solutions to help that community and prevent a similar disaster elsewhere. This included analysis on the state’s failing infrastructure—including the need to replace lead pipes, the broader issue of lead poisoning and the many health stressors low-income kids face. The statement may be attributed to League President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“The Flint water crisis should never have happened, but some good policy and infrastructure changes can come of it, including shining a light on the fact that residents in nearly every community in Michigan are still drinking water from dangerous and outdated lead pipes. We applaud the governor’s proposal to replace all of Michigan’s lead service pipes, and hope the Legislature shares this comprehensive, proactive approach. We also urge this statewide commitment to continue in addressing housing-related lead exposure and abatement issues, improving all health supports for low-income families and increasing revenue sharing for local communities.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, 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.

Michigan League for Public Policy pushes for education funding priorities as budget negotiations begin

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Lansing, Mich.—The Michigan League for Public Policy called for action today on funding in the 2017 state budget for child care, at-risk students and adult education as the Michigan Legislature prepares to take up budget legislation this week. The League sees these as key issues for improving kids’ education outcomes and workers’ economic standing, and a way to immediately address the challenges families in Flint and Detroit are facing.

“If the Legislature is looking to use the budget to help people and improve the state economy, increasing funding for students at risk, adult education and child care is the way to do that,” said Gilda Jacobs, president & CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “For toddlers whose brains are at peak development and students facing hardship at home and at school to adults who face employment and earnings barriers because of a lack of education, investing in these programs will benefit generations and lift families out of poverty.”

The League’s state budget priorities are outlined in a series of budget briefs, and additional updates will be added to the website as the budget progresses. The education budget recommendations to lawmakers include:

  • Support expanded child care funding for young children in Flint;
  • Increase income eligibility for child care assistance to at least 150% of poverty;
  • Invest $10 million in adult education funding to enable 8,000 more students to be served;
  • Only expand adult education eligibility to individuals under 20 years old if additional funding is provided to cover them.
  • Fully fund the state’s At-Risk School Aid program and expand eligibility to all districts.

The child poverty rate has increased in the state by 23 percent since 2006, with nearly 1 in every 4 children in Michigan living in poverty (22.6 percent). Child poverty is even higher for kids of color (47 percent for African-Americans and 32 percent for Hispanics compared to 16 percent for White kids).

Children living in poverty often require additional services and resources, which come at a greater cost to their schools. While Michigan’s At-Risk School Aid program is designed to address that and better serve low-income kids, it has only been fully funded for two years out of the last two decades, resulting in a cumulative shortfall of nearly $2 billion.

“The Kids Count in Michigan Data Book released last month showed that too many kids are living in poverty, and that it affects their education, their health and their future,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the League. “Kids of color face continued barriers to opportunity and economic stability, especially in Flint and Detroit right now, and policymakers can and should address this by investing in these programs to help workers, schools, parents and kids.”

In Michigan, 2 of every 3 young children now have all parents in the workforce, making child care essential to many families. At the same time, child care costs are hurting all families—especially those making low wages. A family of four living at the state median wage must dedicate more than 20 percent of its income to place two children in a child care center. On average, monthly child care consumed almost 40 percent of 2015 minimum wage earnings, and at poverty-level wages, over 80 percent of a family’s income would be consumed by child care.

Despite rising child care costs for parents, child care providers are some of the lowest-paid workers in the state. Child care workers had median wages of only $8.73/hour in Michigan in 2013, and their earnings are so low nationwide that almost half receive some form of public assistance.

Over 221,500 Michigan adults age 25-44 lack a high school diploma or GED, yet fewer than 7% are enrolled in adult education. At the same time, Michigan has greatly reduced its funding for adult education over the past 15 years, down as much as $60 million a year.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, 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.

Child poverty increases in 80 of 83 Michigan counties, hurts child well-being

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Lawmakers need to fix harmful policies that are failing kids

LANSING—Child poverty went up in 80 of 83 Michigan counties since 2006 and leads to struggles in every other area of a child’s life, the Kids Count in Michigan Data Book 2016 released today by the Michigan League for Public Policy shows. The report outlines policy recommendations for legislators to help low-income kids and children of color and their families, a need that has been magnified by the recent crises with Flint’s water and Detroit Public Schools.

The report shows all three measures of economic security worsened significantly over the trend period (2006-2014), including a 23 percent rate increase in child poverty statewide. The rate of child abuse and neglect also rose, up 29 percent statewide and increasing in most Michigan counties compared to 2006. Research shows that poverty has a detrimental impact on Michigan kids’ health—from lead exposure and asthma to low birthweight and infant mortality, education performance and graduation rates, and future employment and economic security.

“We think all kids count—no matter where they live, their racial or ethnic background, or their family income—but do the elected officials charged with supporting their well-being share that priority?” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “This book is not meant to be simply a reporting tool, but a catalyst for action. If legislators are truly concerned with child well-being, they have to address income and racial disparities, and invest in proven two-generation strategies that help kids by helping their parents.”

Some of the Kids Count in Michigan Data Book’s key recommendations to policymakers on supporting parents and improving child well-being are:

  • Invest in communities to create safe neighborhoods, clean air and water, quality schools and adequate police and fire services;
  • Strengthen policies that support work, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, earned paid sick leave and workforce development opportunities;
  • Promote comprehensive strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect, including providing mental health and substance abuse services for parents;
  • Ensure access to affordable, quality child care; and
  • Adequately fund public schools, targeting resources in high-need areas and providing early interventions and services.

“The Michigan League for Public Policy has been producing the Kids Count report for 25 years, but low-income kids are still struggling, and the repercussions touch every part of their lives,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “The Flint water crisis and the horrendous conditions in Detroit Public Schools show just how low a priority protecting kids has become. Lawmakers have a responsibility to protect Michigan kids, and with this book, we provide the information and recommendations for how they can do that.”

The Michigan League for Public Policy has been compiling and releasing the annual Kids Count in Michigan Data Book for 25 years to analyze and evaluate the well-being of children in the state. The 2016 book primarily compares data from 2006 to 2014 and analyzes 16 key indicators across four domains: 1) economic security; 2) health and safety; 3) family and community; and 4) education. The overall child well-being rank is based on a county’s rank in each of the 16 measures.

Some of the most startling statewide takeaways from the Kids Count in Michigan Data Book 2016 (comparing 2006 to 2014) are:

  • Nearly 1 in every 4 children in Michigan live in poverty (22.6 percent)—a 23 percent increase in the rate over 2006 and 2014. Child poverty is even higher for kids of color (47 percent for African-Americans and 32 percent for Hispanics compared to 16 percent for White kids);
  • The rate of children living in families investigated for child abuse and neglect increased by 52 percent and the rate of confirmed victims rose by 29 percent;
  • 32 percent of children live in a household where no parent has secure employment;
  • 67 percent of young children (ages 0-5) had both parents in the workforce;
  • On average, monthly child care consumed almost 40 percent of 2015 minimum wage earnings; and
  • 17 percent of children in Michigan live in high-poverty neighborhoods (only seven states have a higher rate), including 18 percent of American Indian, 55 percent of African-American and 30 percent of Latino children.

Of the 12 trends in Michigan child well-being with enough data to analyze in the 2016 report, six improved, five worsened, and one stayed the same. The report also ranks 82 of the 83 counties for overall child well-being (Keweenaw County lacks sufficient data). The top and bottom three from last year are nearly the same as in 2016. This year’s best counties are Livingston (1st), Ottawa (2nd) and Clinton (3rd). The worst counties are Lake (82nd), Clare (81st) and Muskegon (80th). Other notable county rankings were Calhoun (69th), Ingham (39th), Kalamazoo (44th) and Wayne (66th).

Don Wotruba, executive director of the Michigan Association of School Boards, noted the need to invest in Michigan schools and work with kids and families early on to set them up for success.

“As we’re seeing with Detroit Public Schools at this very moment, greater investment in education is needed to prevent our schools from struggling and our students from suffering,” Wotruba said. “Lawmakers also need to understand poverty’s role in the academic equation and provide early intervention and support services for kids and parents alike to address that.”

As well as informing legislators, the report will help the state’s community, education, health and children’s organizations identify the state policies needed for healthy kids.

“Every child deserves a chance to live a healthy life,” said Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, executive director and health officer for the Detroit Health Department. “While there are several highlights from the Kids Count data report, like decreases in teen pregnancy and lead poisoning rates, there’s still lots of work to do. Unintended pregnancy stands at 45 percent and 1 in 3 mothers did not receive adequate prenatal care. With a focus on good policy and efficient programs, we can speed the march in the right direction. Our children deserve it.”

For additional information on the Kids Count in Michigan Data Book 2016, including the full report, state, county and regional rankings, charts and images, resources for advocates, and county-specific press releases, go to http://www.mlpp.org/kids-count/michigan-2/mi-data-book-2016.

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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, 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, Battle Creek Community Foundation, Fetzer Institute and Kalamazoo Community Foundation. More state and local data are available at the Kids Count Data Center, www.datacenter.kidscount.org.

Michigan League for Public Policy examines Flint, other “Cities in Crisis”

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Series of policy analyses will look at Flint water crisis, unsafe conditions in Detroit Public Schools and systemic problems with state government

LANSING — The Michigan League for Public Policy released an overview of the Flint water crisis today entitled “A Blueprint for Disaster: Flint’s Crisis, State Government’s Challenges and the Policy Solutions to Both.” It is the first in a series of fact sheets the League will produce analyzing “Cities in Crisis” in Michigan.

“Like most people in Michigan right now, our hearts and minds are focused on the water crisis in Flint and what needs to happen now and in the future to address it,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president & CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “But as we began to look at the situation in Flint, we saw a pattern in state policies that began before the Flint water switch and have set up lots of communities for disaster. With ‘Cities in Crisis,’ the League will be taking a closer look at the specific needs of Flint and Detroit schools as well as broader issues their struggles have exposed in state government.”

The League’s fact sheet on Flint connects the water crisis to bigger government failures in Michigan than just the water system change, including the shift of what the role of government should be, the failure of the business-model approach and the ongoing disinvestment in infrastructure in the state. “A Blueprint for Disaster” also offers immediate and ongoing recommendations for policy changes to better serve all Michigan residents, regardless of their income, their zip code or the color of their skin.

The League will release a new fact sheet every week or so that can be followed on the League’s Cities in Crisis webpage. This page also includes information on the League’s communications, advocacy and policy work on the Flint water crisis. Upcoming fact sheets will be analyzing the statewide disinvestment in infrastructure, negative effects of lead poisoning, social determinants of health, unsafe conditions in Detroit Public Schools and other pressing issues facing Michigan communities.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, 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.

Statement: State budget needs policy changes, new revenue and ideological shift to prevent future crises

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING —The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on Governor Rick Snyder’s 2017 budget presentation. The statement may be attributed to League President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“While we support the budget funding proposed today to immediately address the crises in Flint and Detroit schools, we deplore having to clean up state government messes when there are so many other pressing needs. We can’t make the state budget a teeter-totter that helps those in crisis but ignores those in need, or these disasters will repeat themselves in other communities and schools around the state. Improving infrastructure and supporting early education and child care, nutrition and health for low-income families should be priorities statewide, and Michigan needs systemic policy changes and new and stable revenue streams to do so.

“Today’s budget proposal did include some major victories for the people of Michigan that we have been fighting for for years, like expanding Healthy Kids Dental to all eligible kids in every county and increasing the clothing allowance for low-income kids. We hope that these significant improvements survive the legislative process, and that the budget cuts that will surely come do not target these or other vital programs and services that Michigan kids, workers and families depend on. Finally, we hope the governor and Legislature will step up to finally and permanently address the significant racial, economic and geographic disparities that are perpetuated in the budget process year after year to show we truly are ‘one Michigan.’”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, 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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