News Releases

Michigan EITC coalition encourages lawmakers to avoid including credit in road funding debate

For Immediate Releasee
August 8, 2015

Contacts: David Waymire, Martin Waymire
(517) 485-6600
dwaymire@martinwaymire.com

 

State EITC helps nearly 800,000 low income, working Michigan households, nearly 1 million children

Lansing, MI: A coalition of organizations supporting the state Earned Income Tax Credit today urged lawmakers to maintain support for the state EITC as a popular key tool for fighting poverty, particularly among children.

Some lawmakers have suggested using $117 million that now is used for the EITC to pay for road projects in future years. “Academic research and survey data shows that is a very bad idea,” said Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “We know that a robust state EITC is a critical part of helping working families move up and out of poverty. We also know from recent polling that nearly 70 percent of Michigan voters oppose the idea of cutting the EITC and using it for roads.”

Tom Hickson, vice president of public policy for the Michigan Catholic Conference, said his organization has been working to inform lawmakers of the value of the EITC. “We are among the many religious organizations who have said we need to have compassionate, effective policies to attack poverty. The state EITC is one of them,” Hickson said. “It’s a hand up that only goes to low-income families with income, and rewards hard work.”

Matt Gillard, president and CEO of Michigan’s Children, noted that nearly 1 million children are in families that benefit from the EITC. “Childhood poverty is an increasingly difficult issue in our state. If we want to ensure our youngest and most vulnerable population gets a good start in life, the EITC is an effective tool with a proven track record of helping children escape poverty,” Gillard said.

Ross Yednock, program director with the Michigan Economic Impact Coalition at Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM), noted that some lawmakers have suggested the $143 average benefit from the EITC is too small to make a difference. “We know that is a car payment for many EITC recipients; it pays for 50 gallons of gas, or helps make a utility or property tax payment. It’s important to those families in many ways,” Yednock said.

Nancy Lindman, director of public policy and partnerships, Michigan Association of United Ways, said that lawmakers should realize the EITC is important to residents and businesses across Michigan. “From Detroit to Crawford County, many working families find the EITC a valuable bump in income at tax time  and they spend their money close to home, helping local businesses. We talk to small businesses who recognize the value of the EITC when they see additional economic activity during income tax refund season.”

More than 30 groups from across the state have signed on to support the state EITC and urge its continued support, including Focus: HOPE, Michigan Disability Rights Coalition, Genesee County Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill Industries of West Michigan and many United Ways across the state.

For more information visit www.saveeitc.com.

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Michiganders: Clean Power Plan will reduce dangerous pollution, protect public health, create jobs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 3, 2015

Contact: Jen Flood, Byrum & Fisk Communications
(517) 333-1606

 

LANSING – Michiganders from across the state today hailed the Clean Power Plan, announced today, as our biggest opportunity to reduce dangerous pollution, protect public health and create jobs.

“The Clean Power Plan is a major step forward in the fight against climate change, which threatens the health of Michigan children, families and seniors,” said Kathleen Slonager, RN, executive director, Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America—Michigan Chapter. “The sooner we act to reduce dangerous pollution, the more we can do to reduce Michigan’s high asthma rates and protect the most vulnerable.”

“The Clean Power Plan is a victory for Michigan families, for our economy, and for our air and water quality,” said Jack Schmitt, deputy director, Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “We at the Michigan League of Conservation Voters look forward to working with Gov. Snyder and the Michigan Legislature to fully implement the Clean Power Plan, which is a huge opportunity to better protect our clean air and water from pollution and take action on climate change.”

Carbon pollution from burning coal causes climate change and extreme weather, and threatens the health of seniors, kids and families. The Clean Power Plan sets the first ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants and encourages investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.

“Brewery Vivant and other Michigan craft brewers understand the importance of taking action on climate change and the Clean Power Plan is a major step forward in reducing pollution and protecting our Great Lakes,” said Kate Avery, director of sales and marketing, Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids. “Businesses rely on renewable energy and energy efficiency now more than ever to save money, drive investment and reduce pollution. Breweries like ours are excited to support an energy plan that can sustain Michigan’s comeback.”

“Michigan is home to some of the oldest, most inefficient coal-fired power plants in the nation and their pollution threatens the health of families across the state,” said Shannon Nobles, community engagement specialist, Michigan League for Public Policy. “The Clean Power Plan will increase our use of clean, renewable energy and that means less pollution, protecting the health of Michigan kids, families and seniors.”

It is expected that Michigan can comply with the Clean Power Plan by implementing Governor Rick Snyder’s goals of increasing renewable energy and energy efficiency. Due to advances in technology and dramatic declines in cost, Michigan is already transitioning away from coal. The Clean Power Plan will spark investment, spur innovation and spark opportunities in Michigan’s growing clean energy sector.

“Michigan can crush its clean energy target under the Clean Power Plan, by continuing its current path toward clean, efficient electricity resources,” said Rebecca Stanfield, deputy director for policy for the Natural Resource Defense Council’s Midwest Program. “The investments already made in clean renewable energy and energy efficiency have lowered bills, reduced pollution and put thousands of Michiganders to work. Doing more of this, as part of a national effort, will also mean that our kids won’t inherit a planet that is beyond saving.”

“The Clean Power Plan is a responsible step for the United States and for Michigan to take in our partnership with God for a sustainable and healthy life for our children and grandchildren, for the elderly, for the poor,” said Rev. John Schleicher, bishop emeritus, North/West Lower Michigan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. “It is our moral obligation to do the right thing for our common home.”

 

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More Michigan kids live in poverty now than during Great Recession

Contact: Alicia Guevara Warren at aliciagw@mlpp.org
or 517.487.5436

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, July 21, 2015

More Michigan kids live in poverty now than during Great Recession

Michigan slips again in state rankings for child well-being, now 33rd

LANSING, Mich. – While most states have seen improvements in child well-being over the past five years, families in Michigan continue to suffer with more children living in poverty now than in the last full year of the Great Recession, according to the new 2015 KIDS COUNT® Data Book released today from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

More than 524,000 Michigan children live in poverty, a rate of one in four, compared to one in five in 2008. The number of children in families where no parent has full-time employment also is up, from 31 percent to 33 percent. And the state’s rank in overall child well-being fell for the second year in a row, placing it behind 32 other states including all of its Great Lakes neighbors: Minnesota (1st), Wisconsin (13th), Illinois (20th), Ohio (23rd) and Indiana (32nd).

“The economic recovery clearly has not reached everyone,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president & CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Michigan’s unemployment rate may be at the lowest it’s been in the past decade, but many of these new jobs are low-wage and too many families continue to struggle to make ends meet to care for their children. This report proves that Michigan is losing ground while other states prosper and this is not the direction we need to go.”

The 2015 Data Book, which focuses on key trends in child well-being in the post-recession years, ranks Michigan in four domains:

  • Economic well-being: 33rd
  • Education: 37th
  • Family and community: 29th
  • Health: 23rd

Michigan’s worst ranking was in education, where preschool attendance and fourth-grade reading proficiency has dropped since 2008. Recent expansions and state investments in early childhood programs and in early literacy programs will help address these issues, and Michigan should begin to see some improvement in these areas. A stark reality highlighted in the report is the widening economic gap among children of color, with almost one in every two African American children and nearly one in every three Latino children in Michigan living in poverty. Children living in high-poverty neighborhoods – where poverty rates are more than 30 percent – also increased, from 14 percent in 2006-10 to 17 percent in 2009-13. The number of children in single-parent families jumped from 32 percent in 2008 to 36 percent in 2013, accounting for 767,000 children.

On the positive side, Michigan saw a 16 percent improvement in the number of children living in households with a high housing cost burden, dropping from 38 percent in 2008 to 32 percent in 2013, and continued reduction of teen births, although Michigan’s rank fell from 13th to 19th among states. Slight improvement also was noted in eighth-grade math, and on-time graduation with more significant improvements in child and teen death rates, teen substance use, the number of children without health insurance, and low-birthweight babies.

“Progress was made because of policy changes and concerted effort, so we know that with political will, we can help families thrive,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director. “Policymakers can help improve outcomes for children in Michigan by ensuring that their parents have the tools and support they need to raise healthy, educated and skilled children for Michigan’s future.”

Among recommendations to improve Michigan’s child well-being:

  • Invest in two-generation strategies that improve access to opportunities for parents, such as increased funding for adult education and training, which will lead to higher-wage jobs with benefits and regular schedules, and improvements in the child care subsidy program to ensure quality, flexible and affordable child care while parents attend school or work. A better public transportation system also would help ensure that parents get to work and school.
  • Continue a strong investment in education with a particular focus on early childhood initiatives, such as home visitation and Early On.
  • Support a fair tax system that includes the state Earned Income Tax Credit, a well-evidenced poverty reduction tool, along with making key provisions of the federal EITC and Child Tax Credit permanent before they expire.
  • Invest in strategies to reduce the 8.2 percent of Michigan babies born too small, particularly in communities of color.
  • Strengthen safety net programs that provide temporary relief to families experiencing economic hardship by removing barriers such as asset limits and misguided truancy policies so families have the tools and resources to improve outcomes for their children.

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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 www.aecf.org.

For more information: KIDS COUNT Data Center, which is home to comprehensive national, state and local statistics on child well-being. KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a state level policy institute dedicated to economic opportunity for all.

Michigan voters overwhelmingly oppose cutting EITC to pay for roads

A survey released today of Michigan voters shows two-thirds support the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, and are opposed to plans to eliminate it to provide $115 million for transportation funding. The telephone survey, conducted for a coalition of interests supporting the EITC, was conducted by EPIC-MRA of 600 voters from June 27 to June 30. July 1, 2015 — Poll Release

Statement: Supreme Court ruling affirms healthcare security for Michigan

For Immediate Release
June 25, 2015

Contact: Karen Holcomb-Merrill
karenhm@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING – The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act in King V. Burwell. The statement may be attributed to League Vice President Karen Holcomb-Merrill.

“This is a huge relief for the over 300,000 Michigan residents who rely on the federal insurance subsidies to keep them out of health and financial disaster. The Affordable Care Act and the federal exchange are critical supports providing all Americans with access to affordable, quality health care. We are thrilled with this ruling.”

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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.

 

Workers need family-friendly jobs, not laws against them

For Immediate Release
June 11, 2015

Contact: Stacey Range Messina
smessina@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Report details how lawmakers can improve jobs, House bill not among them

LANSING – No one wants their meal served with a side of flu or sick children sent to school or child care, but it happens every day across Michigan with low-wage workers losing critical income if they miss work.

Lack of earned sick leave as well as paid family and medical leave, predictable work schedules, and adequate child care assistance in Michigan puts low-income families in a constant struggle to achieve financial self-sufficiency, according to a new report from the Michigan League for Public Policy. That harms everyone with dangers to public health, and greater reliance on public assistance and remedial education to help kids in low-quality child care.

House Bill 4052, expected to receive final passage in the state Senate today, goes against recommendations in the report, “Valuing Families, Valuing Work.” The bill prohibits local governments from passing ordinances to improve workplaces on issues related to sick leave, predictable schedules and minimum wage.

“The best way to escape poverty, support a family and move toward economic security is through work, yet not all jobs have the reliability and flexibility that workers need in order to stay employed and contribute to the economy,” League Vice President Karen Holcomb-Merrill said. “Most middle- and upper-income workers take for granted that they know when they will work and can plan around it, or take time off when they aren’t feeling well or to care for a sick child. But those are luxuries for too many low-paid workers who have to choose between going to work sick and paying their rent.”

The report outlines four ways Michigan legislators can improve the workplace to help low-paid employees meet the needs of their families and help society in the long-run:

  1. Require all employers to provide earned sick leave.
  2. Urge Congress to establish a national paid family and medical leave insurance program.
  3. Require employers to create predictable schedules.
  4. Update and strengthen the state child care subsidy to reflect reality.

Other legislation pending at both the state and federal levels would require employers to provide earned sick leave, a notion that receives strong public support. A recent poll by Denno Research found 86 percent of Michigan voters agree that every worker should be able to earn sick days in order to take time off without losing pay. Another Congressional bill would provide workers with 66 percent of their income for up to 12 weeks of leave due to serious illness or pregnancy. The program would be funded through small employer and employee contributions.

Low-income workers also are more likely to have irregular work schedules making child care difficult to find as well as wreaking havoc on family budgets when shifts are canceled or shortened. Child care also is a major expense for families, accounting for up to 30 to 50 percent of monthly expenses, and Michigan’s child care subsidy must be updated to better support children at the highest risk for poverty-related issues.

“These are common sense fixes that everyone should support to help all families thrive,” Holcomb-Merrill said. “This is about making sure jobs are in fact helping workers support their families rather than creating chaos and endangering children’s well-being.”

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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: A bad day for Michigan’s families & children

For Immediate Release
June 10, 2015

Contact: Stacey Range Messina
smessina@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING – The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the House vote to eliminate the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Senate’s approval of a package of bills allowing agencies to deny adoptive and foster placements based on religious beliefs. The statement may be attributed to League Vice President Karen Holcomb-Merrill.

“This was not a banner day for Michigan’s children and families who were beat up in both the House and Senate.

“We are greatly disappointed in the representatives who voted to raise taxes on Michigan’s most vulnerable working families, and we are fearful for the thousands of families who will be pushed into poverty as a result and the rest who will struggle to make ends meet.

“Make no mistake: Eliminating the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit is a tax increase on 820,000 hard-working families in Michigan and it reduces the chances of success for more than 1 million kids. These are families who work and work hard to provide for their children on low- and moderate-incomes. And while the credit amounts to pocket change for our legislators, it means a great deal to the families trying to survive on a fraction of a representative’s income.

“Without this tax credit, many families will struggle to afford housing, child care and transportation so they can remain in the workforce and take steps toward self-sufficiency. We are grateful to the representatives whose common sense and conscience led them to vote against this bill, particularly the Reps. John Bizon of Battle Creek, Thomas Hooker of Byron Center, Martin Howrylak of Troy, Holly Hughes of Montague, and Brandt Iden of Kalamazoo.

“We also thank Sen. Tory Rocca of Sterling Heights for voting against bills allowing agencies funded with public dollars to discriminate based on religious beliefs against potential foster and adoptive parents. These bills put up more barriers for getting children in the child welfare system. into loving and supportive homes. They certainly are not in the best interest of children.

“These bills are shameful. We remain hopeful that the Senate will see the intrinsic value of the EITC and refuse to pave the roads on the backs of working families, and we hope that Governor Snyder will see the religious freedom bills as the discrimination they are and veto them.”

 

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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.

 

Hope for new roads deal on Mackinac Island

For Immediate Release
May 27, 2015

Contact: Stacey Range Messina
smessina@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING – Fixing Michigan’s roads is certain to be a large topic of discussion among legislative, business and civic leaders at this week’s annual policy conference on Mackinac Island – a destination experienced by few of the 820,000 low-income families who are slated for a 6 percent tax hike under the House GOP transportation plan.

A new fact sheet by the Michigan League for Public Policy shows that the plan to eliminate the state Earned Income Tax Credit would push 7,000 working families into poverty and leave hundreds of thousands more struggling to make ends meet.

“This plan paves Michigan’s roads on the backs of our working poor,” said League President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs. “It robs poor Peter to pay Paul at a time when these families still are reeling from the Great Recession. Not everyone has recovered yet, and certainly not these families who are barely scraping by. Taking away more of their earnings is just wrong.”

The House Roads and Economic Development Committee will take testimony on House Bill 4609, eliminating the EITC, at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 2.

If approved, it would be the second tax increase in five years on this same population of working families with low-wage jobs. The first was in 2011, when lawmakers cut the state credit from 20 percent to 6 percent – a $285 million tax hike on our lowest earners, while at the same time giving businesses a $1.65 billion tax break. The cut dropped the average credit from $430 to $143.

Studies show the Michigan EITC is one of the state’s most effective tools for reducing poverty and building economic security. At the full 20 percent, the credit lifted more than 20,000 working families above the poverty line and eased hardship for many more. At the current 6 percent, it lifts about 7,000 working families above poverty.

The EITC has long?lasting, positive effects on children, helping them do better and go farther in school. The EITC also increases work effort and strengthens Michigan’s economy by allowing working families to keep more of their income to help pay for housing, child care, and transportation so that the family can remain in the labor force and take steps toward self?sufficiency. Without the tax credit, families will have less to spend at local businesses. Eliminating the credit would provide just $117 million for the $1.2 billion roads plan.

“That’s a drop in the bucket for the state but a huge amount for one million Michigan children and their families,” Jacobs said. “This isn’t a good plan for anyone – not the families, not our communities, not our businesses. We are hopeful a new deal can be crafted that protects our working families.”

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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: Truancy bill will drive up poverty

For Immediate Release
May 26, 2015

Contact: Stacey Range Messina
smessina@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING – The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement today on House Bill 4041, terminating cash assistance for families if a child between the ages of 6 and 15 is considered truant by their local school district, or for the minor alone if over age 16. The bill was passed by the Senate and was sent for concurrence to the House. The statement may be attributed to League President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“With more than half a million Michigan children living in poverty and the needs of too many families unmet, our state should be doing everything possible to lift them up, not push them deeper into economic crisis.

“That’s exactly what this bill does. It is unnecessarily harsh on families and children who are living in extreme poverty with less than $10,000 a year for a family of three. The vast majority – 73 percent – of cash assistance recipients are children, with an average age of 7. These families have very few resources and already face a number of challenges, including inconsistent work schedules, lack of access to affordable child care, and reliable transportation – some of the main barriers to regular school attendance.

“The goal of increasing school attendance is laudable; we all want students in school, learning and getting the education needed to end the cycle of poverty. But this bill won’t get kids to school. However, it is certain to push more of kids deeper into poverty, making it even more difficult to get to school. We urge Gov. Snyder to veto this bill.”

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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: Enough funds to support key investments

For Immediate Release
May 15, 2015

Contact: Stacey Range Messina
smessina@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING – The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the results of today’s Revenue Estimating Conference. The statement may be attributed to League Vice President Karen Holcomb-Merrill.

“With state revenues exceeding expectations, we are hopeful that lawmakers will find the funds needed to support Gov. Snyder’s efforts for Michigan’s working families and students. His proposals to support adult education and boost third grade reading, child care payments and inspections, and dental care for more children are paramount to helping Michigan children succeed and their families gain economic security.”

 

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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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