News Releases

Statement: Patience and bipartisanship pay off to help feed 338,000 families

For Immediate Release: December 7, 2016

Contact: Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on today’s passage of Senate Bill 800, a supplemental budget bill that will provide food assistance for 338,000 families in Michigan. The year-end budget bill includes an investment of $6.8 million in state funds that will fix an issue with the federal Heat and Eat program, restoring approximately $76 per month in food assistance for 338,000 low-income families. The League has worked closely on the Heat and Eat issue since it arose in 2014. The statement may be attributed to League Vice President Karen Holcomb-Merrill.

“We have been working on this issue for several years, and on behalf of the 338,000 families who will soon have more food to eat with this fix, we applaud the Legislature for their passage of this bill. In particular, we want to recognize the persistence of Representatives Jeff Irwin and Sam Singh and Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. to keep this issue prominent from the budget process in the spring until now. We also want to thank Appropriations Chairs Representative Al Pscholka and Senator Dave Hildenbrand for upholding this amendment, and all legislators from both sides of the aisle who voted for it this afternoon.

“At a time when political tensions have been high, it’s refreshing to see policymakers come together on this important issue to help curb hunger for Michigan residents, including seniors and people with disabilities. We now look to Governor Rick Snyder to keep up the consensus and sign the bill to turn this good news into good policy.”

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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 18 percent rate increase statewide in pregnant women smoking

For Immediate Release: November 17, 2016

Contact: Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Smoking, other maternal and child health factors worse by race and geography

LANSING—The rate of expectant mothers in Michigan who reported smoking while pregnant increased by 18 percent between 2008 and 2014, according to a new report released today. The number of preterm births (less than 37 weeks gestation) also increased significantly over the time period, with the rate going up by 20 percent statewide.

This information and other surprising data are found in the Michigan League for Public Policy’s Right Start: 2016 annual report on maternal and child health, which reviews eight indicators on maternal and child health from 2008 to 2014 for the state, by race, by county and for 22 of the state’s larger cities and townships. In 2008, 21,966 Michigan mothers, or 18 percent of all births, reported smoking during pregnancy. That number increased to 24,273 and 21 percent of births statewide in 2014. Smoking during pregnancy is associated with preterm births, babies with low birthweight, infant deaths and other complications.

Not surprisingly, the number of preterm births also went up in Michigan, from 12,619 preterm births (10 percent of all births) in 2008 to 13,855 preterm births (12 percent) in 2014. Premature and low-birthweight babies face immediate health concerns, but also suffer from long-term issues.

“To ensure that Michigan kids count, we have to help them and their mothers get the right start, and this report shows that more needs to be done to promote and support healthy pregnancies” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan Project Director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “With all of the information out there on the risks of smoking, the increase in pregnant women who are smoking in this day and age is particularly startling. With these numbers, you would think it is 1986, not 2016. Funding and programming cuts clearly have consequences, and the state urgently needs to reinvest in evidenced-based smoking prevention and cessation efforts for pregnant women.”

While the rate of births to white mothers smoking during pregnancy remains the highest of the state’s three largest racial/ethnic groups (23.5 percent), the rate of births to Hispanic mothers smoking while pregnant increased the most—rising by over 46 percent between 2008 and 2014. The rate increased by 16 percent for African-American mothers and 17.5 percent for white mothers. Similarly, the rate of Latina mothers whose babies are born too soon rose by more than 26 percent over the trend period. The report also found that generally rural counties with smaller populations experienced the highest rates of mothers smoking during pregnancy.

Reduced budget funding is a primary culprit in the lack of targeted outreach and services to help pregnant mothers quit smoking, resulting in the increase in pregnant women smoking and the number of preterm births in the state. In the 2017 budget, including state and federal funds (excluding Medicaid dollars), smoking prevention and cessation initiatives were funded at $3.78 million, which is down 34 percent from budget year 2008. Currently, there is $10,800 targeted to prenatal outreach, up $800 from the 2008 budget. These funds are for local and statewide programs and one goal is to eliminate disparities by race/ ethnicity, geography, income level, type of job and gender and sexual orientation.

There is some good news on maternal and child health in Michigan, as five of the eight indicators saw improvement across the state between 2008 and 2014. This included a 30 percent rate decrease in births to women under age 20 statewide, a 10 percent rate decrease in repeat teen births, and a 21 percent rate decrease in births to mothers with no high school diploma or GED. The other two areas of improvement were a nine percent rate decrease in the number of pregnant women who received late or no prenatal care and a one percent rate decrease in the number of low-birthweight babies.

A mother’s education level is one of the better predictors of whether she will access adequate prenatal care, smoke during pregnancy and be financially secure, which are all connected to both the mom’s and child’s well-being. The improvement in teen births is likely the result of a combination of factors, such as fewer teens having sexual intercourse, increased access to long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), and an increase in the use of postpartum contraception. The 2015 Right Start report focused more in-depth on the state’s decline in teen births.

The 2016 Right Start report outlines several recommendations for policies and practices that lawmakers and health workers can pursue to help improve maternal and child health for Michigan residents, including:

  • Boost efforts to reduce and prevent smoking, especially during pregnancy and among youth.
  • Ensure strong implementation of e-cigarette and hookah regulations to reduce smoking among youth.
  • Increase cultural competency training with all health workers and grow a diversified workforce.

“By focusing on education and awareness efforts and embracing realistic policies, Michigan has made significant strides in reducing teen births and births to mothers without a diploma or GED,” Guevara Warren said. “The assumption that smoking is not a relevant issue for pregnant mothers today is obviously incorrect, and policymakers now need to place that same emphasis on smoking while pregnant, including targeted efforts by race and location.”

In addition to the full report, localized press releases and individual profiles of 22 communities can be found at http://www.mlpp.org/kids-count/michigan-2/2016-right-start, including information on county efforts to address smoking cessation for pregnant women. Information will also be available online by county and for Michigan’s 69 largest cities and townships at the Kids Count Data Center. For more information on the League’s Kids Count work, go to www.mlpp.org/kids-count.

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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, the Detroit-based Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Frey Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, DTE Energy Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, Battle Creek Community Foundation, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, and John E. Fetzer Fund of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.

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. Right Start is a product of Kids Count in Michigan, a project of the League.

League forum brings hundreds of residents together to discuss solutions to poverty and racial inequity in Michigan

For Immediate Release: October 10, 2016

Contact: Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

League issues new report on race and education in conjunction with event

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy held its annual policy forum today, Race, Poverty and Policy: Creating an Equitable Michigan, bringing together more than four hundred residents and state and national experts from advocacy, business, government and media.

The current national climate on race, the Flint water crisis, the ongoing struggles of Detroit Public Schools and other recent policies that have made it painfully clear that policymakers, advocates and residents needed to have an honest discussion about race equity and statewide policy change. The forum included a keynote address by Rinku Sen, president and executive director of Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation, followed by five breakout sessions to discuss challenges and possible solutions to racial inequity and poverty in Michigan. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician whose discovery of elevated lead levels in Flint’s children made policymakers address the Flint water crisis, was honored with the League’s Champion for Kids Award at the forum today.

“Race is not easy or comfortable to talk about, and that’s exactly why we decided to make it the focus of our policy forum this year,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “If we’re going to address and work to resolve systemic racism in Michigan, we need to address it head-on and have a unified front between elected officials, advocates, journalists and residents to address it, and that’s what we’ve tried to do today.”

In conjunction with today’s event, the League also released a new report, Race, place & policy matter in education. The report exposes deep disparities in educational opportunities for Michigan children based on income, race and geography that stem from poor state budget and policy decisions that have widespread economic and generational repercussions.

Students of color are more likely to be economically disadvantaged, due in part to their parents’ lack of economic and educational opportunities. Race appears to play a role in school discipline practices, reading proficiency, high school graduation, college-readiness and attainment, and finally lower levels of employment and earnings as adults.

“As our work finds time and again, there are racial disparities in nearly every area of public policy—health, reading proficiency, school suspensions and expulsions, college attainment and student debt, incarceration rates, employment and income,” Jacobs said. “It’s time for policymakers to stop arguing about causes and instead agree that these disparities are wrong and bad for us all, taking responsibility that they all must come together to pursue solutions. These inequities are caused by decades of bad policy decisions that continue today and will keep affecting each subsequent generation until systemic changes are made.”

The League continues to focus both its mission and work on racial inequity as well as poverty, examining all policies through a race equity lens. In addition to the report released today, some other recent materials produced by the League that examine racial disparities in different policy areas include: an analysis of Census poverty data, the Back to School Report on rising tuition and student debt, a fact sheet on income inequality and a review of the 2017 state budget.

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NOTE: Diverse experts and interested parties from around the state participated in four panel discussions and one workshop as part of today’s forum. The sessions and participants were:

Solutions for Cities in Crisis: Moderated by Regina Bell, W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Panelists are Donnell White, Detroit Branch NAACP; Nayyirah Shariff, Flint Rising; and Stacey Stevens, Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion.

Government’s Role in Achieving Race Equity: Moderated by State Representative Erika Geiss. Panelists are Jorge Zeballos, Center for Diversity and Innovation at Kellogg Community College; Al Vanderberg, Ottawa County, which is a member of the national Government Alliance on Race Equity (GARE); and Martha Gonzalez-Cortes, Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

The Next Move: Taking Equitable Action for Change (Workshop): Presenters include Peter Hammer, Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights; eliza q. perez-ollin, Detroit Equity Lab; Kate Baker, Detroit Historical Society; and Lisa Leverette, Community Connections Grant Program and Lower Eastside Community Grant Program.

From Watchdog to Dog-Whistle: Media’s Role in Reporting on Race: Moderated by Martina Guzmán, Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights Race and Journalism Fellow at Wayne State University. Panelists are Dr. José Flores, La Voz Magazine; Judy Putnam, Lansing State Journal; Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press; and Michelle Srbinovich, general manager of WDET FM.

The Business Case for Racial Equity: Moderated by Alfredo Hernandez, Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance. Panelists are Don Jones, New Economy Initiative; Jason D. Lee, Focus: HOPE; Abe Carillo, Herman Miller; and Sharon Darby, Cascade Engineering.

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.

Passage of third-grade reading bill good start, broader efforts to address poverty still needed

Contact: Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the Michigan Legislature’s passage of third-grade reading legislation today. The statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“This effort to improve third-grade reading in Michigan has been challenging, but the final compromise passed today keeps the needs of Michigan students and their families at the forefront. While there are areas that still could be improved with this bill, we appreciate the diligence of lawmakers to see this bill come to fruition and to thoughtfully work on an agreement that is largely positive. We are pleased to see the number of exemptions, including empowering parents, as well as early and ongoing interventions and extra support for English language learners.

“Literacy is the cornerstone of all other learning through school and into the workforce, and Michigan’s third-grade reading numbers have been declining for too long. This bill will help turn things around and get Michigan students back on track. While this addresses one part of the equation of Michigan’s faltering education outcomes, more targeted efforts are needed to address poverty and hunger, which significantly affect learning for kids of all ages and grades.”

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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.

League applauds action to improve third-grade reading

Contact: Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on today’s action on third-grade reading legislation. The statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“The League supports this effort to improve Michigan kids’ reading proficiency and their overall path to becoming lifelong learners. We know how important literacy is to not only educational achievement, but to overall well-being into adulthood, and we are pleased to finally see action on this critical issue for kids and to help Michigan become a top ten state in education. We maintain our concerns with mandatory retention, but while this bill may not be perfect, that is the nature of compromise. We are pleased with the number of exemptions, including the ability of a parent to make the request. The bill contains many other positive provisions, such as early and ongoing interventions to help students struggling, and is ultimately a strong step in addressing this issue.”

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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.

Census data shows Flint and Detroit poverty worst in nation, people of color still struggling statewide

Contact: Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Michigan’s economic “recovery” still dependent on zip code, skin color

LANSING—Data released by the United States Census Bureau today shows that Flint and Detroit have the highest poverty rates of comparable cities in the United States and that Michiganians of color are struggling, issues the Michigan League for Public Policy has been working hard to address.

Detroit’s poverty rate of 39.8 percent and Flint’s poverty rate of 40.8 percent were the highest in the nation for cities of their size. Flint’s median income for 2015 was $25,342, and Detroit’s was $25,980, both less than half of the statewide median household income.

For 2015 statewide, Michigan’s median household income increased 2.4 percent from 2014 to $51,084. The state’s overall poverty rate dropped .4 percent to 15.8 percent and the child poverty rate dropped from 23.7 percent to 22.4 percent. These figures are slightly higher than the national poverty rates of 14.7 percent overall and 20.7 for children.

“Michigan’s economic improvement is in the eye of the beholder and too many people in our state are still not seeing any relief,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Reducing poverty and improving incomes for Detroit and Flint residents and people of color will benefit all of our communities and businesses. Talking about these geographic and racial disparities is a start, but the real need is for quick and thoughtful action by lawmakers to doing something about them.”

For poverty, today’s Census data reinforced the continued racial disparities in Michigan. Across Michigan in 2015, the poverty rates for people of color were: 32.9 percent for Blacks or African-Americans, 25.2 percent for American Indians or Alaskan Natives, 23.8 percent for Hispanics or Latinos and 14.9 percent for Asians. These were all higher than the 12.3 percent poverty rate for Whites in Michigan.

The median income for Whites in Michigan in 2015 was $54,775, nearly $4,000 more than the state’s overall median income. For Hispanics/Latinos, the median income was $13,000 less than whites at $41,844. For Blacks/African-Americans, it was even worse, with a median income of $31,099, more than $23,000 lower than Whites.

With the lead poisoning disaster in Flint and the physical and fiscal conditions of Detroit Public Schools, the League took an in-depth look at Michigan’s Cities in Crisis and made policy recommendations to state government on how to support Flint, Detroit and other cities.

Today’s Census data reinforces the need to also take action on statewide policies lawmakers can pass to reduce poverty and improve economic equity for all include:

  • Working to make college more affordable, especially for older workers and individuals raising families;
  • Eliminating the asset limit for food assistance;
  • Enacting earned sick leave for all workers;
  • Improving investment in child care, education and state support services; and
  • Restoring Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and expanding the federal EITC to low-wage workers not raising children.

Reports on all of these issues can be found at www.mlpp.org/resources/reports-by-date.

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NOTE ON HEALTHCARE COVERAGE:
The Census released data earlier this week on healthcare coverage, which was a significant bright spot for Michigan. Thanks to Medicaid expansion through the Healthy Michigan Plan and other healthcare reforms, 475,000 more Michiganians had health insurance in 2015. That was a 44% drop in the number of Michigan residents without health insurance from 2013. But despite the Healthy Michigan Plan’s continued success, state lawmakers cut outreach funding in the 2017 budget that stands to hurt the program’s efforts.

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.

 

League says Great Start report underscores need for urgent action to invest in, improve child care

Contact: Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Lawmakers have 16 days—and three session days—to act before $20M in federal child care dollars disappears

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy continued its push for greater investment in child care, issuing the following statement on a new research report released today by the Michigan Department of Education-Office of Great Start and Public Sector Consultants, Inc. The statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“This report was commissioned by state government, and hopefully that means its findings will light a fire under state policymakers. Lawmakers need to start by immediately acting to keep the $20 million in federal funding set to vanish in September because of a failure to invest sufficient state dollars. And then they need to look at how we can have a child care system where struggling families are receiving little to no help and child care workers are on public assistance while parents are paying college-level child care costs.

“Child care affects kids and parents alike, our family lives and our work lives, and it has been a top priority in both our Kids Count work and our budget and tax policy efforts. We believe this report will help set a vision for child care in Michigan and hope that policymakers, employers and parents will support the expansions needed to keep Michigan’s economy growing and provide economic opportunity and stability for all families with young children.”

BACKGROUND:

According to the League’s Kids Count in Michigan Data Book 2016, nearly 1 in every 4 children in Michigan live in poverty (22.6 percent) and child poverty increased in 80 of 83 counties from 2006 to 2014. The Kids Count research also found that 67 percent of young children (ages 0-5) had both parents in the workforce, and on average, monthly child care consumed almost 40 percent of 2015 minimum wage earnings.

Other League research has found that most child care providers are very low-wage workers, and many qualify for public assistance themselves, the cost of child care often far exceeds the means of low- and even moderate-wage workers. The cost of child care for two children in a high-quality center in Michigan exceeds the average mortgage and cost of college tuition.

Child care has been a prominent focus of the League’s policy work, with analyses in the following briefs and reports:

Press statement on jeopardized federal funding: 2017 budget includes big victories and missed opportunities

2017 Budget Brief: The 2017 state budget fails to protect all children and families and perpetuates economic disparities

2017 Budget Brief: Michigan needs to expand child care support to keep families working

2014 Report: Failure to invest in high-quality child care hurts children and state’s economy

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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 tuition costs double to sixth highest in U.S., state college funding down $262M since 2003

For Immediate Release
September 6, 2016

Contact: Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Data shows 62 percent of Michigan college students graduate with debt, averaging $29,450; nationally, college debt worse for students and families of color

LANSING—Public university tuition in Michigan increased by 100-150 percent since 2003 and is the sixth highest tuition in the country according to a new Back to School Report released today by the Michigan League for Public Policy.

The report, Rising Tuition and Weak State Funding and Financial Aid Create More Student Debt, cites skyrocketing college costs, decreased state higher education funding, and reduced state financial aid in causing mounds of debt that will loom over students for decades to come. Between 2003 and 2016-2017, Michigan cut university funding by more than $262 million, a 30 percent decrease in public support after adjusting for inflation. State funding for need-based financial aid per full-time equivalent student has declined by 55 percent since 1992 when adjusted for inflation.

“As the college semester gets underway, too many students and families have had to take on a mountain of debt to get there or are being priced out of a higher education altogether,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Over the last 13 years, public university tuition has drastically gone up while state funding for universities plummeted by almost a third, leaving students and families to foot the bill. Once again, Michigan is a national leader in a negative category—and one that runs counter to the political rhetoric of attracting and keeping talent.”

Michigan has the ninth highest average student debt level in the nation, with 62 percent of Michigan’s Class of 2014 graduating with debt averaging $29,450—$10,000 more than students in some other states. There is not racial data on student debt available at the state level, but the report shows that nationally African-American students and their families owe significantly more in student debt ($43,725) than individuals of other races, and that Latino parents and grandparents incur the most student debt on behalf of their children and grandchildren.

In the early 1990s, Michigan was among the top ten states in need-based financial aid spending, but is now in the bottom half in the country. The national average of state spending on need-based grants is $533 per full-time equivalent undergraduate student, yet Michigan spends only 42 percent of that amount ($223) and only one-quarter of what neighboring Indiana spends ($870). Michigan has also completely eliminated state financial aid for students over age 30 attending a public community college or university—a move in the wrong direction as an increasing number of college students are older, have families and work full-time jobs.

“Making college more affordable is an education issue, a workforce development issue and an economic issue,” Jacobs said. “Businesses want an educated workforce, and students and older workers need a postsecondary credential to improve their job prospects and individual earnings, both of which benefit our communities and economy. There are policies that can cut down on the cost of college—legislators just need to act on them.”

The Back to School Report concludes with policy recommendations to Michigan lawmakers on postsecondary education funding, including:

  • Restore and increase the state budget funding that has been cut from public universities and community colleges and implement stronger tuition restraint or tuition reduction requirements on the schools;
  • Make need-based financial aid grants available to older workers;
  • Ensure that there is financial aid help for students going to college less than half-time or who are in short-term programs; and
  • Support policies that can help alleviate hardship for low-income students, including policies that permit low-income students to receive public assistance such as cash assistance, food assistance or subsidized child care.

For more information on the League’s budget recommendations on higher education funding, especially for programs for older students, visit our Budget Briefs page. The League’s previous Labor Day Reports on workforce issues are available at mlpp.org.

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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 income inequality 11th worst in nation, wealthiest 1% make 22 times more than rest of workers

For Immediate Release
July 26, 2016

Contact: Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

New League analysis to examine income inequality, severe impact on women and workers of color

LANSING—Michigan has the 11th worst income gap in the nation according to a new fact sheet, Time to End Income Inequality, issued today by the Michigan League for Public Policy. The fact sheet shows that the top 1% of Michigan’s earners make 22 times more than the bottom 99%.

“Instead of moving Michigan forward, a majority of state policies have been pulling Michigan apart, most noticeably with the widening income gap,” said Karen Holcomb-Merrill, vice president of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “While our state’s economy has recovered for some, poverty is still a major issue for many others—including those with full-time jobs. We are all for financial success, but lawmakers must make sure our public policies are fair to all and helping those with the greatest need. Right now, they’re not.”

After relatively similar growth for all income levels for 30 years, the fact sheet shows that from 1979 to 2007, incomes for the top 1% of workers increased 100%—while the rest of workers experienced an income decline of .2%. That created a huge income gap in Michigan that continues today. The richest residents’ share of Michigan’s total income has also grown dramatically. In 1979, the top 1% of Michigan households held about 9% of the total income in the state. By 2013, the top group’s income share had nearly doubled to 17.9%, while the rest of Michigan residents saw their incomes decline.

Michigan women and people of color are particularly hurt by the gap, with Michigan ranking among the worst nationally in gender pay disparities. According to the most recent data, annual median earnings for full-time working women in Michigan are $12,738 less than men, with women making 74.6 cents on the dollar earned by men in 2014. The most recent wage data available by race shows that in 2012, workers of color made $3 less per hour than white workers, and that racial disparities are unrelated to a worker’s education. The League will be producing a series of fact sheets on income inequality to look at these issues closer.

“Income inequality is obviously a pocketbook issue, but low wages negatively affect workers and their families in so many ways,” Holcomb-Merrill said. “Low incomes hurt the financial standing of future generations. Lower-wage earners are also less likely to have employer-sponsored healthcare and paid sick and family leave, and have greater difficulty saving for their retirement or a child’s college education. Michigan’s kids, workers, neighborhoods and economy will all benefit from greater income equality.”

With the League’s focus on translating data into policy change, the fact sheet also outlines recommendations for state policymakers to reduce income inequality, including:

  • Further raising the minimum wage or eliminating the tipped wage;
  • Expanding access to high-quality child care;
  • Enacting earned paid leave policies;
  • Restoring Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 20% of the federal credit;
  • Expanding the Homestead Property Tax Credit;
  • Implementing a fairer income tax, such as a graduated income tax, and other equitable tax changes (Michigan’s lowest income earners pay nearly double the rate in total state and local taxes of the top 1%);
  • Improving K-12 education, especially for children at risk of educational failure;
  • Increasing adult education; and
  • Expanding access to post-secondary education.

The fact sheet utilizes national, state and local data recently released in a report by the Economic Policy Institute and Economic Analysis Research Network as well as income information from the Census’ American Community Survey and the National Equity Atlas.

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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: 2017 budget includes big victories and missed opportunities

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the general omnibus budget bill signed by Governor Rick Snyder today. The League has also put together a full report analyzing the pros and cons of the 2017 budget, The 2017 State Budget Fails to Protect All Children and Families and Perpetuates Economic Disparities. The budget expands Healthy Kids Dental to all eligible kids in Kent, Oakland and Wayne counties, but failed to secure funding to fix the Heat and Eat policy that reduced federal support for many Michigan residents. By investing approximately $3 million in state funds, Michigan would have been able to draw down $140 million in federal dollars through Heat and Eat and restore approximately $76 per month in food assistance for 150,000 low-income households. The statement may be attributed to League President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“The 2017 budget contains a mixed bag, and our reviews are equally mixed. After years of fighting for dental coverage for all kids in need in all parts of the state, we are extremely happy that the budget signed today includes long-awaited funding to expand dental coverage to around 131,000 low-income kids in Wayne, Oakland and Kent counties. We have inched closer and closer to achieving this each year, and it’s heartening for us and the people we are fighting for to see that patience and persistence can pay off.

“Other budget areas continued to miss the mark, yet again overlooking the Michiganians with the greatest needs. At a time when revenues are tight, we were optimistic that all opportunities to secure federal match dollars would be pursued, especially with such a minimal state investment needed. However, the inaction to resolve Michigan’s Heat and Eat issue cost the state around $140 million in federal funding and cost 150,000 households in Michigan, including seniors and people with disabilities, even more—the very food on their tables. And while this budget included a moderate increase to Michigan’s child care subsidy, it included no corresponding state investment, causing us to also lose millions in federal child care dollars. Michigan’s recovery is still leaving too many people behind, and unfortunately, the 2017 budget did as well. We are hopeful that legislators will reconsider these missed opportunities and act quickly to remedy them through supplemental funding.”

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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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