News Releases

Statement: Plan B must protect low-income families

For Immediate Release
May 5, 2015

Contact: Stacey Range Messina
517.487.5436 o
517.214.5994 c

 

LANSING – The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on today’s failure of Proposal 1. The statement may be attributed to League President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“We are deeply disappointed that Proposal 1 was not passed by the voters. Michigan needs an ongoing and dedicated revenue stream to fix our roads that this proposal provided while protecting schools, local communities and low-income working families.

“Opponents did a great job of convincing people that the complicated nature of the proposal should be suspect. They fed into government mistrust and frustration. That’s unfortunate because Proposal 1 was a good solution to fixing Michigan’s dangerous roads without drastic cuts to schools and communities.

“It’s going to be very difficult to fix unsafe roads and bridges without new money. If we don’t raise taxes to pay for the improvements, the Legislature will be forced to enact severe budget cuts.

“Our greatest concern is protecting families with low incomes. Because of the regressive nature of the sales tax, we fought hard for Proposal 1 to include an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit to protect the lowest earners, those making less than $20,000 a year, from the increased sales and gas taxes and registration fee changes. For a single mom supporting two kids on a full-time minimum wage job, that would have meant an extra $608 to buy food and pay bills, or maybe get ahead a little for once.

“As we move forward to develop a Plan B, our highest priority will be seeking full restoration of the EITC to 20%. The need remains and must be a priority for our Legislature. We also must look at increasing public transportation, which is so important for people with low incomes and no cars to be able to get to and from work.

“We stand ready to work with the governor and Legislature on a new proposal that will fix the roads without taking money from schools and local governments and without harming those who earn the least.”

 

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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.

State must invest in renewable sources and energy efficiency measures

For Immediate Release
April 16, 2015

Contact: Stacey Range Messina
smessina@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

 

Report: Low-income families and communities of color suffer most from carbon pollution, energy costs 

LANSING – Low-income families and communities of color are disproportionately affected by high energy costs and pollutants from coal-burning power plants in Michigan, suffering more health problems such as asthma and spending a larger chunk of their income on electricity bills, according to a new report from the Michigan League for Public Policy.

The report, “Clean Energy Brings Health, Savings and Jobs to Low-Income Michigan Families,” details the problems fossil fuels bring to these populations and how they benefit the most from investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.

Some key points of the report:

  • Michigan is home to more than 20 active coal plants, including Wayne County’s River Rouge Plant, one of the dirtiest coal plants in the nation where people of color make up 65% of the community.
  • The Michigan Department of Community Health calls Detroit and its downriver neighborhoods the “Epicenter of the Asthma Burden,” with residents three to six times more likely to have asthma-related hospital admissions than the state as a whole.
  • While the average U.S. household spends 3% of its income on electricity bills, low-income families spend 8% — and more when energy costs spike.
  • Approximately 6 million Americans live within three miles of a coal plant, and people of color and low-income households are more likely to live near these plants, with coal plants in urban areas overwhelmingly located in communities of color. The average per capita income in neighborhoods with coal plants is below the poverty threshold at $18,400, nearly 15% lower than the U.S. average income of $21,587.
  • 39% of U.S. residents living near coal plants are people of color although they account for only 36% of the entire population.

“Clearly Michigan’s low-income families and communities of color are suffering the most from harmful carbon pollutants and high energy prices,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president & CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Investing in renewable energy and adopting energy efficiency measures, such as those proposed by Gov. Snyder, promote economic security and better health for thousands of families struggling with these issues.”

The League supports the spirit of Gov. Snyder’s energy plan calling for a 15% reduction in energy waste and 19-24% of the state’s energy coming from renewables, so that by 2025, Michigan should meet 30-40% of its energy needs through renewable energy and energy efficiency. But the League urges the creation of mandates and accountability standards for meeting these goals.

Adopting a plan that meets the requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which allows states to be credited for energy efficiency improvements in all sectors of the economy, could drop electricity bills by 8% for an annual savings of about $100 for the average consumer.

Michigan’s economy also would get a boost, with up to 6,900 new energy efficiency-related jobs created by 2020 under a scenario similar to the Clean Power Plan.

The report was released in conjunction with “Bridging the Clean Energy Divide: Affordable Clean Energy Solutions for Today and Tomorrow,” a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council showing how a transition to cleaner power and reduced carbon pollution can lead to healthier communities, greater savings, and a stronger economy in Michigan and nationwide.

“Michigan is home to many people who work hard and play by the rules, but lack the resources to protect themselves from the effects of climate change,” said Katharine McCormick, NRDC Midwest Advocate. “Much more can be done to help low-income communities keep more of their hard-earned dollars and reduce their exposures to dangerous air pollution that makes it harder for people to breathe.”

The reports were released during a panel discussion at the Radisson Hotel Lansing. Paul Smith, deputy legal counsel of the Office of Gov. Snyder, was the keynote speaker and Gilda Z. Jacobs, president & CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy, moderated. Panelists included McCormick from the NRDC along with Alexis Blizman, legislative and policy director of The Ecology Center; Kimberly Hill Knott, director of public policy at Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice; and John Kinch, executive director of Michigan Energy Options.

 

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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.

 

Kids Count in Michigan wins grant from Skillman

For Immediate Release
April 13, 2015

Contact: Stacey Range Messina
smessina@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING – The Detroit-based Skillman Foundation has awarded $85,000 to the Michigan League for Public Policy for the 2015 activities of the Kids Count in Michigan project.

 Kids Count in Michigan compiles an annual review of a core set of measures of children and youth in Michigan, 82 counties and the city of Detroit. Those measures are in four categories: health, economic security, education, and family and community. In addition to the Kids Count in Michigan Data Book, the project provides an annual report on maternal and infant health and conducts a public education campaign to improve the status of children. The League partners with Michigan’s Children to disseminate the information in order to improve policies and programs for children.

“Improving communities and the lives of children depends on reliable and accurate information to show where to invest precious resources,’’ said Tonya Allen, president of The Skillman Foundation. “Kids Count is a trusted and valuable tool for advocates, policymakers and communities, and we are proud to support it.’’

The 2015 Data Book found that too many kids in Michigan remain mired in poverty while policymakers have reduced help for struggling families. The book examines trends on 15 key indicators, showing the state improving on eight between 2006 and 2013 while losing ground dramatically on five measures, including economic security.

“The support provided by The Skillman Foundation is critical to the Kids Count in Michigan project,’’ said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “The report provides rich local data and shows trends in child well-being so we can see where resources are needed most.’’

Kids Count in Michigan is part of a nationwide network of state projects supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, which houses the national Kids Count project. In Michigan, the project also is funded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, and other generous supporters.

Created in 1960, The Skillman Foundation is a private philanthropy committed to improving meaningful graduation rates in the Detroit region, so kids are ready for college, career, and life. The Foundation has assets of nearly a half-billion dollars, with an annual grants budget of $17 million. The Foundation works to achieve its goal by investing in community leadership, neighborhoods, safety initiatives, high-quality schools, social innovation and youth development.

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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: Working families find Senate support today

For Immediate Release
March 25, 2015

Contact: Stacey Range Messina
smessina@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

 

LANSING – The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on today’s actions of the Senate K-12, School Aid and Education Appropriations Subcommittee. The statement may be attributed to League President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“We commend the subcommittee for standing up for Michigan’s working families and recognizing that these critical programs must be boosted, not cut. We are thrilled that the subcommittee went beyond Gov. Snyder’s proposal, adding $7 million for adult education for a total of $29 million, and $10 million for third grade reading programs, bringing the total to $35 million – items that were eliminated by a House appropriations subcommittee yesterday.

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Third grade reading, adult ed must be restored

For Immediate Release
March 24, 2015

Contact: Stacey Range Messina
smessina@mlpp.org
517.487.5436 |  517.214.5994 after 3 p.m.

 

New reports prove need for investments, not cuts

LANSING – A House Appropriations subcommittee today eliminated all funding next year for adult education and for Gov. Snyder’s proposed third grade reading initiative, bucking recommendations of two new reports proving the dire need to boost both areas.

Promoting Early Literacy in Michigan,” released today by the Michigan League for Public Policy, asserts that the ability to read by the end of third grade is central to a child’s success in school, life-long earning potential, and ability to contribute to the nation’s economy. But in 2013 almost two of every five Michigan third-graders did not demonstrate reading proficiency on the MEAP, according to the Michigan Department of Education. About 10,000 of those 40,000 students scored at the most elementary level. Most students who fail to achieve this critical milestone fall further behind and often drop out before earning a high school diploma.

Willing to Work and Ready to Learn: More Adult Education Would Strengthen Michigan’s Economy,” released by the Michigan League for Public Policy earlier this month, shows that too few adults are getting the basic skills education they need to succeed in occupational training and find a way out of low-paying, dead-end jobs and into careers that can support their families.

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Working families of color falling behind in Michigan

For Immediate Release

March 16, 2015

Contact: Stacey Range Messina
smessina@mlpp.org 517.487.5436

 

Latino Immigrants at Greatest Risk;
Study Concludes Michigan Can Address the Problem

LANSING – A sharp racial/ethnic divide has emerged within the world of working families earning low wages, posing a critical equity and economic challenge to Michigan and the nation, a new study concludes.

Unless Michigan lawmakers pursue more policies to improve conditions, African-Americans and Latinos will continue to emerge as a larger – but under-prepared and underpaid – segment of the workforce.

The disturbing portrait of America’s low-income working families was sketched by the Working Poor Families Project based on new analysis of the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The report, “Low-Income, Working Families: The Racial/Ethnic Divide,” sheds fresh light on what’s happening inside the world of the working poor, where adults are working hard but find it difficult if not impossible to get ahead. And within this world at the bottom of America’s economic spectrum, a stark divide has emerged between white and Asian families compared to black and Latino families. (more…)

Michigan’s forgotten talent needs adult education

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Contact: Stacey Messina at 517.487.5436

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan is not reaching anywhere near enough of the working age adults who lack basic skills to be part of the state’s workforce development push, according to a new report released today.

Willing to Work and Ready to Learn: More Adult Education Would Strengthen Michigan’s Economy,” released by the Michigan League for Public Policy, shows that too few adults are getting the basic skills education they need to succeed in occupational training and find a way out of low-paying, dead-end jobs and into a career that can support their families.

“Michigan’s talent and workforce development efforts are severely hampered by all of these people being left behind,” League Vice President Karen Holcomb-Merrill said. “We are ignoring a huge pool of potential talent and skills that could be developed to benefit Michigan and our economy.”

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Health care tax subsidies should be available to all Americans who qualify

Contact: Judy Putnam at 517.487.5436

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in the King v. Burwell case regarding Affordable Care Act tax subsidies in Michigan and others states that did not set up their own health care exchanges. The following statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs:

“With the health care coverage of 300,000 Michigan adults at stake, it’s important that the U.S. Supreme Court justices allow tax subsidies to stand in Michigan and other states without their own health care marketplaces. It’s clear that Congress never intended that only people in certain states could take advantage of tax subsidies. Those subsidies should be available to all Americans who qualify, regardless of geographic boundaries. (more…)

Government programs, tax policies reduce child poverty

Contact: Judy Putnam or Jane Zehnder-Merrell at 517.487.5436

Michigan rate drops in half when safety net counted

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan’s poverty rate for children drops by half when the positive effect of government programs and tax policies are taken into account, a report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation concludes.

In fact, 341,000 Michigan children are lifted from poverty when such programs as food assistance, federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits, cash assistance, child care assistance and housing subsidies are counted. About the same number are left in poverty.

“At a time when so many programs designed to help children and families have been cut, this is good information that shows safety net programs do work as intended,’’ said Jane Zehnder-Merrell, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy, which helped release the report.

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Many kids stuck in poverty without solutions

Contact: Judy Putnam or Jane Zehnder-Merrell, 517.487.5436

Kids Count in Mich. ranks 82 counties on child well-being

LANSING, Mich. – Too many kids in Michigan remain mired in poverty at a time when policymakers have reduced help for struggling families, according to the Kids Count in Michigan Data Book 2015 released today.

Three measures of economic conditions worsened over the trend period with nearly one in every four children living in an impoverished household, a 35 percent increase in child poverty over six years. The trend period measured from 2006 to 2012 or 2013, depending on the availability of data.

(more…)

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