News Releases

Statement: Road package is reason to celebrate

Contact: Judy Putnam at 517.487.5436 or

The following statement was released by Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy, in reaction to the road funding compromise announced today.

“This bipartisan compromise is truly a reason to celebrate. If lawmakers and then voters approve, the plan will fix the roads without taking away from Michigan’s kids, and protects those earning the least by restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit to 20 percent of the federal credit.

“In fact, the larger EITC would benefit more than 1 million kids in Michigan. It would help working families stay on the job by assisting them with transportation costs and would lift many more families from poverty.

“This is a welcome holiday package wrapped up with a bow.”

For more information on the EITC, see the League’s fact sheet: Cuts to Michigan’s EITC raise taxes on working families 

See the League’s road funding report: Road funding proposals: Let’s not make it harder for people to get to work


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonpartisan policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Schools would lose millions under House road plan

Contact: Judy Putnam at (517) 487-5436

House plan to fix roads would divert millions from local school districts

LANSING, Mich. – Shortchanging Michigan’s 1.5 million public school students to pay for road repairs is bad policy and would stymie efforts to build a highly skilled workforce.

New estimates show staggering sums would be diverted from local school districts under a plan approved by the Michigan House last week. For example, Saginaw schools would lose an estimated $3.4 million a year if a House plan to divert sales tax to fix roads goes through, Lowell schools would give up $1.8 million, Marquette would be out $1.5 million a year, while Ann Arbor schools would lose $7.8 million.

“Enough is enough. Our kids must have the skills needed in a 21st century economy so that they can compete. This plan shortchanges our kids and our future,’’ said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Michigan voters in 1994 dramatically changed the way schools are funded, by lowering property taxes and raising the sales tax from 4 cents to 6 cents. The extra two cents was dedicated to schools and revenue sharing for communities. This includes sales tax on gasoline. Changing that now without replacement revenue violates the spirit and the voters’ intent of Proposal A.

“This is nothing short of a shell game. Proposal A brought higher sales taxes to offset the lowering of property taxes. Now to take those dollars to fix roads would solve one problem but create a far bigger one – fewer dollars for already stressed classrooms,’’ Jacobs said.

New estimates by district show a staggering impact from the House-approved plan to divert sales tax on fuel, now dedicated to schools and revenue sharing. The estimates are based on a report from the House Fiscal Agency estimates that schools would lose $634.1 million this year, rising to $888.7 million in 2022-23. The Michigan Association of School Boards has estimated an average loss of $475 per pupil per year.

More than 1,700 people have signed a League petition telling lawmakers to fix roads the right way. Taking from kids is the wrong way.

The Senate-approved plan supported by Gov. Rick Snyder is a far better option. It raises new revenue to pay for roads with a wholesale tax on fuel.

What is the impact on your district?

See the League’s report on road funding:


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonpartisan policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Two-generation strategies needed

Contacts: Judy Putnam | 517.487.5436 |
Jane Zehnder-Merrell | 517.487.5436 |
Editors note: County data on young children in low-income families available here.

Half of Michigan’s young families struggle to make ends meet
Coordinated approach must address whole family to lift children from poverty

LANSING, Mich. – With half of Michigan’s young children growing up in low-income households, state leaders must do more to lift kids out of poverty, including passing family-friendly work laws and offering better support for working parents with very low incomes.

A new Annie E. Casey Foundation report, Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach, outlines common sense strategies to deliver high-quality early childhood education while helping parents with access to job training, career paths and other tools that will enable them to support their families.

“In Michigan and across the country, efforts focus on helping kids in poverty and other efforts help parents,’’ said Jane Zehnder-Merrell, Kids Count in Michigan Project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “This report calls for an approach that looks at the whole family. With so many struggling families in our state, it’s important that we take action to help kids and their parents together.”

In Michigan, 510,000 children ages birth to 8 live in families earning less than 200 percent of poverty. That’s less than roughly $47,000 for a family of two parents and two children. Those children represent 49 percent of all kids 0-8.

The KIDS COUNT® policy report calls upon public, business and nonprofit leaders to work toward enacting policies that help kids while helping their parents get on career paths that will lead to family-supporting wages.

Michigan is on the right track with a P-20 educational data system that, when fully implemented, will be two-generational. It will track children’s educational progress as well as that of their parents (if they are in school), and will enable cross-checking educational indicators with salaries, employment and public assistance. This will enable the state to determine how well educational and public assistance systems and programs are working.

Recommendations for Michigan’s two-generation approach that will help end the cycle of poverty:

• Expand the state Earned Income Tax Credit, now at 6 percent of the federal tax credit. Research shows that boosting incomes of families with young children by just a few thousand dollars has long-lasting benefits for children.

• Enact “Schedules that Work” legislation that requires employers to give workers their schedules at least two weeks ahead of time. Michigan also lacks paid family and sick time laws, which are needed to protect low-wage workers who are least
likely to have such benefits.

• Restore financial aid to older adults to attend Michigan’s public universities. Cuts to higher education over the past decade have eliminated all public university and community college grants for older students, many of whom have families. In Michigan 79 percent of families earning low incomes and with children 8 or younger have no parent with more than a high school diploma.

• Improve child care subsidies for working families with low incomes. Michigan has among the lowest income eligibility in the country, at about 120 percent of the poverty level. A majority of states set the level at 150 percent of poverty or higher. The state must also ramp up the number of visits by licensing consultants. A recent federal audit found caseloads to be 150:1 – triple the recommended number.

The report emphasizes the need for federal and state agencies, along with businesses and community- and faith-based institutions, to work more closely together so that the whole family can succeed.

The full report, Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach, is available online. More Michigan data available here.


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. For more information, visit KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonpartisan policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way. Kids Count in Michigan is a project of the League.


Don’t hurt working people with road repairs

For release: Nov. 10, 2014
Contact: Judy Putnam at 517.487.5436 or

Paying for roads: Let’s not make it harder for people to get to work

LANSING, Mich. — Paying for road improvements in Michigan should not be on the backs of working families already struggling to cover the basics nor should it come from shortchanging other essential services that are needed to grow the economy, a new policy brief released today by the Michigan League for Public Policy concludes.

Replacing the state’s flat per-gallon fuel taxes with a tax based on the wholesale price of gas would likely have the least harmful impact on working families and low-income individuals, especially if coupled with other policies to offset the effect, such as increasing the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit. A sales tax increase would have the most harmful impact on families with low incomes because those families pay a much bigger share of their incomes in sales tax than more affluent households.

“Clearly something must be done to fix our terrible roads, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of those who can least afford the costs. Half of families with young children in Michigan are low income and they are already struggling to meet daily needs,’’ said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “It’s also important that we not starve other essential services, such as public safety, education and health care, to pay for road repairs. Doing so would jeopardize Michigan’s economic recovery.’’

Michigan businesses need safe roads and good public transportation to make sure workers can get to their jobs and to transport goods. The state’s roads are among the worst in the country and Michigan drivers spend an average of $357 annually on unnecessary car repairs due to damage from deteriorated roads. Proposals to increase the sales tax or earmark revenue from the sales tax to pay for roads by diverting them from other essential services would harm families struggling to make ends meet.

The state’s flat gas tax of 19 cents per gallon is at an all-time low, when adjusted for inflation, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The tax hasn’t been raised since 1997. Increasing the excise tax on gas and diesel fuel and placing it on the wholesale cost of fuel will generate new dollars for roads while causing the least harm to working families. Offsetting the additional costs of transportation with an increase in the state EITC would be sound policy because it would help working families keep their heads above water.

“The bottom line is that we need good roads and we need workers who are able to afford the costs of transportation to get to work,’’ Jacobs said.

See the brief:


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonpartisan policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Statement: Wrong turn on road fix

Contact: Judy Putnam | 517.487.5436 |

Fixing roads at the expense of Michigan’s kids, communities is wrong direction

In response to the Michigan Chamber of Commerce announcement of a plan to divert sales tax away from schools and communities and into roads, the Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement:

“Michigan needs better roads but not at the expense of kids and communities. As Michigan continues to recover from the Great Recession, investments in education and communities are key strategies needed for the economy to improve and to grow the skilled workers necessary for today’s global economy. Blowing a hole in the budget of at least a half-billion dollars and leaving it up to lawmakers to fill the gap is an irresponsible and dangerous idea.’’

The statement may be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy Vice President Karen Holcomb-Merrill.


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonpartisan policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Michigan school funding down from pre-recession

Contact: Judy Putnam at (517) 487-5436

School funding cuts among the nation’s deepest  since 2008
Future workforce, ability to compete in global economy at risk

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan ranks 15th worst in the country in depth of cuts to school funding since the start of the recession, a new report finds. These unnecessary cuts weaken our schools and could make it harder for the next generation of American workers to compete for highly skilled jobs in the global economy.

Michigan has cut investment in K-12 schools by 9.5 percent since 2008, a deeper cut than 32 other states, according to a report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.  The report looks at state support of the per-pupil foundation grants across the states. (more…)

Report: Child care system falls short

Contact: Judy Putnam at (517) 487-5436 or

Infographic: Click here.

Sound recording: Sound of kids playing : Gilda Jacobs quote

More inspectors, better payments needed to ensure high-quality care

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan’s child care program falls far short in ensuring high-quality child care that is so essential to kids, their parents and state businesses, a new report concludes.

“We need a strong child care system that offers access to safe, stable and high-quality care, and we have failed to invest in that care,’’ said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “This is important to kids and families, and it’s essential to maintaining a high-quality and reliable workforce that our state needs.’’

The League’s report, Failure to Invest in High-Quality Child Care Hurts Children and State’s Economy, was released today. (more…)

Poverty stagnates in Michigan

Contact: Judy Putnam at (517) 487-5436

Policymakers have options to help one in every four kids growing up in poverty

LANSING, Mich. — Poverty remained high in Michigan last year, highlighting that many people have not yet recovered from the recession and underscoring the need for state policymakers to do more to help struggling people afford the basics such as decent housing, nutritious food, reliable child care and transportation. Increasing the state Earned Income Tax Credit and minimum wage will help.

One in six in Michigan lived in poverty in 2013, according to new Census Bureau data released today. That’s less than $24,000 a year for a family of four. The 2013 poverty rate remained essentially the same as the previous year at 17 percent.

Child poverty saw a slight decrease but remained unacceptably high. In 2013, it was 23.8 percent, down from 24.9 percent the previous year. (more…)

Census shows improvement in uninsured

Contact: Judy Putnam at (517) 487-5436

Census: Fewer in Michigan without health insurance in 2013
Big progress expected this year thanks to Medicaid expansion

LANSING, Mich. — The number of people without health care coverage in Michigan fell in 2013, according to Census Bureau data released today, and is expected to fall even further this year thanks in part to the state’s decision to extend affordable health insurance to those in Michigan with low incomes.

Today’s data release shows 1,072,000 Michiganians, or 11 percent, still did not have health insurance last year, though there was some progress between 2012 and 2013. (more…)

Dynamic duo: minimum wage and EITC

Contact: Judy Putnam at (517) 487-5436

LANSING, Mich. — Raising the minimum wage and expanding state Earned Income Tax Credits are two key strategies to be used together to help working families as the economy slowly recovers from the Great Recession, a new national report concludes.

Michigan has taken steps in the right direction but has much room for improvement, said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

“Workers in Michigan continue to struggle with low wages that have declined over the years. Strengthening the state’s minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credit even more would help those earning the least in our state, and it would boost our economy,’’ Jacobs said. (more…)

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