Reports


Michigan’s child care assistance program: Challenges and opportunities

pdficonPat Sorenson, Senior Policy Analyst
August 2017

Budget Brief JPG USE THIS ONE

CHILD CARE COSTS ARE HIGH WHILE PROVIDERS STRUGGLE

Access to child care is a necessity for working parents and a foundation for Michigan’s economic growth and vitality. Unfortunately, the high cost of child care has become a major barrier for parents earning low wages, often forcing parents to rely on a patchwork of relatives, neighbors and friends who may be unable to make long-term commitments.

The predictable results for parents are frequent work disruptions that can jeopardize their jobs or force them to leave their children in care they don’t believe is safe or adequate. For employers, the bottom line is a smaller pool of workers for lower-wage jobs, and employee absenteeism and turnover.

Child care costs are some of the largest that families will face, rivaling housing and even the price of a year of college.

  • Cost for one infant in a child care center in Michigan: $10,178
  • Average annualized rent: $9,168
  • Average annualized mortgage: $14,640
  • Average tuition and fees at public colleges: $11,994

Child care costs are high in comparison to wages for many families, but not because child care providers are well paid or their businesses are thriving. Child care providers, who earned an average of just $19,620 in 2015, are some of the lowest-paid workers in the state, with wages that fall below those of veterinary assistants, animal control workers, manicurists and telemarketers—who are similarly underpaid. Nationally, nearly half of child care providers are themselves eligible for some form of public assistance.

MI child care challenges opportunities graph 1

MICHIGAN’S CHILD CARE PROGRAM HAS LAGGED BEHIND OTHER STATES

Michigan ranks among the lowest states in the country in its investments in child care for families with low and moderate incomes—even turning back federal child care funds because of restrictive state policies that prevented families from getting the care they need to work and support their families. In 2003, Michigan’s spending on child care was the 11th highest in the nation; by 2013 the state dropped to the 11th lowest in the country.1

Michigan’s Child Development and Care (CDC) program helps families with low wages who are: 1) working; 2) completing high school/GED courses; 3) participating in job training programs; or 4) engaging in family preservation activities.

Parents can choose from a number of child care settings—provided affordable options exist in their communities and are willing to take children with child care subsidies. The options include licensed child care centers; family/group homes; and relatives, friends and neighbors.

MI child care challenges opportunities graph 2FEWER FAMILIES SERVED ALONG WITH LESS FUNDING TO COMMUNITIES

In part because of Michigan’s restrictive child care policies, the number of families receiving a CDC subsidy has dropped dramatically, along with the dollars flowing to communities to help support working parents, employers and the local economy. In January of 2007, Michigan provided child care subsidies to 57,268 families, including 111,526 children; by January of 2016 only 17,047 families and 30,134 children received child care assistance. Child care payments followed suit, dropping by 80% statewide during this period.

LOW REIMBURSEMENTS AND STRINGENT ELIGIBILITY MAKE IT HARDER FOR FAMILIES

Payments to providers are too low to ensure access to high-quality child care. Rates paid to child care providers depend on the age of the child, the type of child care setting, and the number of stars a provider has in the state’s five-star quality rating system (Great Start to Quality). Federal guidance recommends rates at the 75th percentile of market rates, but Michigan’s rates have fallen significantly below that level. Payments currently range from $1.35 per hour for unlicensed providers to a maximum of $4.75 per hour for infants and toddlers in a five-star child care center, although funds were approved for the 2018 budget to increase child care provider rates.

Michigan’s child care eligibility levels are among the lowest in the country. In 2016, Michigan had the lowest income eligibility level in the nation. Despite a small eligibility increase in 2017 from 120% to 125% of poverty ($25,525 for a family of three), Michigan has remained at the bottom of the states. The budget signed by the governor for 2018 includes an increase in eligibility from 125% of poverty to 130%.

STATE ADMINISTRATIVE POLICIES ARE A BARRIER

In addition to low reimbursement rates, child care providers in Michigan are required to bill for their services hourly—contrary to normal business practices.

MI child care challenges opportunities graph 3MICHIGAN’S CHILD CARE SUBSIDY IS LARGELY FEDERALLY FUNDED

The bulk of the funding for child care subsidies in Michigan comes from the federal government through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Total funding for child care subsidies in the 2017 budget year is $134 million, with approximately $106 million (79%) coming through the federal CCDBG. Approximately $25.8 million (19%) is from the state General Fund.

The CCDBG gives states wide latitude in setting reimbursement rates and eligibility, and programs vary from state to state. The federal law limits eligibility to 85% of state median income and sets a goal (not a mandate) that rates be set at the 75th percentile of market rate, meaning that the subsidy would cover 75% of the providers in a family’s market area. At 38% of state median income, Michigan’s income eligibility cutoff falls far below that standard.

In 2014, the CCDBG was reauthorized to create several new mandates for states—the first reauthorization in 19 years. Unfortunately, there was little new federal funding attached. Included in the federal requirements are:

  • More extensive requirements related to health and safety in child care, including pre-service and ongoing training of providers, additional licensing requirements, on-site inspections, and comprehensive background checks for all providers, including those who are exempt from licensing (family, friends and neighbors).
  • An increased focus on improving quality, including an increase in the percentage of CCDBG funds that need to be used for that purpose.
  • More family-friendly policies, including a minimum 12-month eligibility period (if income remains below the eligibility limit), and a graduated phase-out of assistance.
  • Payment policies and practices that reflect generally accepted practices for child care providers.

MI child care challenges opportunities graph 4POLICY CHANGES HAVE IMPROVED ACCESS AND QUALITY BUT MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE

A stronger focus on quality. State and federal initiatives have increased attention on the importance of high-quality child care in recent years. When the federal CCDBG was adopted in 1990, followed by national welfare reform in 1996, the goal was primarily to provide child care as a work support—with a focus on access rather than quality.

As scientific research began to prove the importance of the earliest years of life to children’s learning and development, the need for high quality settings became undeniable. In Michigan, public/private partnerships began to spring up to improve the quality of child care, culminating in the launch of the Office of Great Start within the Department of Education, bolstered by the work of the Early Childhood Investment Corporation. The result was a significant increase in funding for the state’s preschool program (Great Start Readiness Program), regional resource centers to improve access to high-quality care, the state’s child care rating system (Great Start to Quality), and other quality improvement initiatives through the state’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant.

Small increases in child care payments related to Great Start to Quality. Michigan’s last across-the-board increase in child care rates occurred in 2009. In 2011, rates for care provided by families, friends and neighbors who are legally exempt from licensing were reduced if new training requirements were not met.

In July of 2015, rate increases were provided to licensed providers (child care centers and homes) based on the number of stars they earn in the state’s five-star quality rating system—with the full-year cost in the 2016 budget year of $6.1 million in federal funding. While tiered reimbursements can create incentives for quality improvements, the reality is that in Michigan’s grossly underfunded child care system, many child care providers did not receive the higher payment rates.

Michigan has made progress in engaging licensed child care providers in the state’s child care quality rating system. In 2014, 82% of the state’s 9,963 licensed providers were only meeting basic licensing requirements—the absolute floor for safety in care signified by an “empty star” in the state’s five-star system. By May 1, 2017, 57% of providers were only meeting licensing guidelines. Nonetheless, rate increases tied to a provider’s quality rating are currently available to only 3,530 providers, or 42% of licensed providers in the state.

A small increase in income eligibility thresholds for those applying for child care assistance. In 2017, Michigan increased its entry eligibility threshold from 120% to 125% of poverty, but remains at the bottom of the states. An increase to 130% of poverty is included in the 2018 budget.

A new policy that allows some families to keep their child care assistance if their wages increase. In compliance with the reauthorization of the federal CCDF, Michigan increased its “exit” income eligibility threshold to 250% of poverty in July of 2015. To receive child care assistance, families still have to be eligible at the lower “entry” eligibility level (now 125% of poverty), but once receiving a subsidy could earn up to 250% of poverty and still receive a subsidy. This avoids the steep eligibility cliff that could increase child care costs for a single mother with two children in care from approximately $2,900 per year to over $18,000 because of a small pay raise.2

Adoption of 12-month continuous eligibility. Also beginning in 2015 and in response to the federal CCDBG reauthorization, Michigan implemented 12-month continuous child care eligibility after enrollment for child care assistance—at a full year cost in the 2016 budget year of $16 million in federal CCDBG funding. This change is intended to avoid child care disruptions for working parents and children.

MI child care challenges opportunities graph 5The hiring of additional child care licensing consultants to improve oversight. In the 2016 budget year, the state approved $5.6 million in federal funding to hire an additional 39 child care licensing consultants. Michigan’s child care oversight had been hampered by very high caseloads, resulting in two federal audits that found the state could not consistently ensure basic health and safety in licensed child care settings. This increase is particularly important in light of tightened federal requirements for oversight and on-site visits.

Updating of payment policies. The Office of Great Start has made changes to help payments to providers and parents flow more quickly and easily. Included are a shortened timeframe for determining eligibility (from 45 to 30 days) and a policy allowing child care payments for up to 208 hours for children who are absent from care.

THE 2018 BUDGET INCLUDES ADDITIONAL CHILD CARE IMPROVEMENTS

In recognition of the connection between child care and work for families with low wages, as well as the state’s failure to use all available federal funds, the governor recommended an increase of $6.8 million in the current budget year (2017) as well as $27.2 million ($8.4 million in state funds) in the 2018 budget to increase rates paid to child care providers. The final 2018 budget approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor includes the following:

  • A total of $19.4 million ($11 million of federal CCDBG and $8.4 million of state General Fund) to increase reimbursement rates to child care providers based on the number of stars in the state’s quality rating system.
    • Licensed/registered centers and homes will receive the following increases: 25 cents per hour for those who have 0, 1 or 2 stars; 50 cents per hour for those at 3 or 4 stars, and 75 cents per hour for 5-star centers or homes.
    • Unlicensed family, friends and neighbors will receive an increase of 25 cents per hour if they are at the Tier 1 training level, while those at Tier 2 would receive an additional 75 cents per hour.
  • An increase of $5.5 million in federal funding to raise the program’s eligibility threshold from 125% of poverty to 130%.
  • An additional $1.4 million in federal funding to increase monitoring of license-exempt family, friend and neighbor care as required in the federal reauthorization, as well as $800,000 for staff in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to do newly required background checks and fingerprinting of providers.
  • $1 million in federal funding for TEACH scholarships for child care providers working to increase their quality star rating.

2017 Supplemental Spending: Also passed by the Legislature was a supplemental budget bill for the current year that includes:

  • An increase of $4.9 million total ($2.8 million CCDF and $2.1 million in state General Fund) to implement the reimbursement rate increase for child care providers in the current year.
  • Funding to ensure that Michigan complies with new federal requirements related to the monitoring of child care settings, including: 1) $7.1 million for comprehensive fingerprinting and background checks of all child care providers and others in child care settings with unsupervised access to children; and 2) $1.5 million for technology improvements needed to implement new changes.

FEDERAL BUDGET UNCERTAINTIES ARE A CLOUD OVER STATE CHILD CARE INITIATIVES

Michigan relies heavily on federal funding for child care and other basic needs programs. With 42% of its total budget coming from the federal government, Michigan is second most reliant on federal funds of all states. Federal budget cuts in Washington, D.C., could threaten Michigan’s progress in providing child care to families with low wages.

The President’s 2018 budget maintained CCDBG at 2016 levels, eliminating a $95 million increase in the current year. In addition other funding sources that can be used to fund child care—Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG)—are on the chopping block, with TANF reduced by 10% and the SSBG eliminated.

Congress has not yet adopted a 2018 Budget Resolution, but the House Appropriations Committee is moving forward. The House proposal includes an increase of only $4 million for the CCDBG, and includes the following cuts: 1) elimination of the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program, which is the only federal grant supporting child care services for low-income parents on college campuses; and 2) a $191 million cut in the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which funds afterschool activities including child care in low-income communities.

Also in the mix at the federal level is tax reform and vague proposals to reduce child care costs through tax and regulatory changes. During the campaign, President Trump advocated for a tax deduction for child care expenses, as well as a limited credit for some families with lower incomes and child care savings accounts. The Tax Policy Center found that the 70% of the benefits of the campaign proposals would go to families with incomes above $100,000, and more than 25% to those with incomes over $200,000.3

More recently, discussions have turned to Dependent Care Assistance Plans, Dependent Care Savings Accounts and tax credits for employers and businesses that provide child care, which disproportionately advantage wealthier families.

There are tax policies that could be adopted at the national level that could benefit families with low wages including: 1) an increase in the amount of the Child Tax Credit to better reflect the cost of raising young children, as well as lowering the earned income threshold for families to be eligible to receive a refund through the Additional Child Tax Credit; and 2) making the Child and Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit refundable so more low-income families could benefit, as well as changes in the credit’s sliding scale and increases in the child care expense limit to better reflect the actual cost of child care.

The President’s tax plan and budget call for requiring a Social Security number to qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit. The IRS already requires a taxpayer to have a Social Security number to receive the EITC, so this is not a policy change but instead simply fuels the anti-immigrant rhetoric. Furthermore, by targeting assistance that is currently intended to benefit children—and which studies have shown have long-lasting positive impacts on the lives and well-being of children—this only hurts many U.S. children who have no control over their parents’ immigration status.

MI child care challenges opportunities graph 6

Final decisions about federal tax reform will be significant for working families in Michigan. The Trump Administration’s proposal to overhaul the federal tax code would provide the wealthiest 1% of taxpayers in Michigan with over half of the state’s tax cuts. The richest 1% of Michigan taxpayers would receive an average tax cut in 2018 of over $120,000, compared to on $830 for the middle 20%, and $100 for the bottom 20%.4 Tax reforms could also reduce the revenues available for programs that would assist families who most need help with the high cost of child care, including adequate funding for the CCDBG that provides direct subsidies and improves child care quality and safety.

WHAT MICHIGAN NEEDS TO DO MOVING FORWARD

Increase eligibility for child care subsidies so more families with low wages can find and keep jobs. The League estimates that a single parent of two children would need to earn over $47,000 a year to meet the family’s basic needs for housing, child care, food, transportation, healthcare and personal needs.5 Setting the state’s child care eligibility level at 200% of the federal poverty level ($40,840 for a family of three) should be the state’s goal if it is serious about encouraging work and full employment. Michigan should incrementally increase eligibility to meet that standard, beginning with an increase to 150% of poverty ($30,630 for a family of three).

Increase access to high-quality providers through rate increases. Michigan should continue to adopt rate increases until it reaches the national CCDF standard of the 75th percentile of market rates. Without adequate payments, parents with low wages will continue to have difficulty finding high-quality care and many child care providers will have insufficient resources to improve quality.

Support early childhood businesses and the child care workforce through appropriate business practices. As a first step, Michigan should follow most other states and move away from hourly billing, opting for billings to half- or full-day care, or weekly—similar to the process used by many for non-subsidized children. Without predictable income, it is difficult for providers to maintain their small businesses and accept children with subsidies.

Improve the supply of care for families needing off-hours or infant care, as well as care for children with special needs. An additional approach Michigan should take is to establish contracts with providers for care—a funding mechanism used in some other states to ensure capacity and increase stability in the child care market. Instead of making payments for hours of child care provided, contracts can be used to ensure slots for children from families with low incomes. As part of the contractual process, the state could focus on expanding the supply of high-quality care for underserved communities and populations, including parents needing evening and weekend care, children with special needs, and infants and toddlers.

Expand eligibility to children and families in high-poverty communities. An innovative alternative to contracts that could target specific underserved communities is the model used in the National School Lunch program of community eligibility, where all children in a high-poverty area are eligible for school meals without applying.6 Michigan was one of the pilot states that experienced a significant increase in the number of children receiving school meals as a result of the program.

Use what is learned about high-quality child care through the investments of the philanthropic sector to guide statewide investments of public dollars. The philanthropic sector has had a sustained interest and investment in early childhood services including child care. The United Way for Southeastern Michigan supported Early Learning Communities—a community-led effort to increase kindergarten readiness by providing two-generational services and connecting families to social and other local services. More recently, the W.K. Kellogg and Kresge Foundations have promoted a community-driven partnership to strengthen and grow early childhood services in Detroit, beginning with a citywide action plan to create coordinated, high-quality early childhood systems that ensure children are born healthy, prepared for kindergarten and ready for success in third grade and beyond. These efforts should help guide public-sector responses to the needs of young children and families for child care and other early childhood services.

ENDNOTES

  1. Child Development and Care (CDC) Program, presentation by Lisa Brewer Walraven, Director, Child Development and Care Program, Michigan Department of Education to the House School Aid and Education Appropriations Subcommittee (February 21, 2017).
  2. Testimony of Lisa Brewer Walraven, Director, Child Development and Care Program, Michigan Department of Education to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education (March 9, 2016).
  3. Who Benefits from President Trump’s Child Care Proposals? Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute and Brookings Institution (February 28, 2017).
  4. Trump Tax Proposals Would Provide Richest One Percent in Michigan with 53.2 Percent of the State’s Tax Cuts, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (July 20, 2017).
  5. Making Ends Meet in Michigan: A Basic Needs Income Level for Family Well-Being, Michigan League for Public Policy (May 2017).
  6. Building a Better Child Care System, prepared by Public Sector Consultants for the Michigan Department of Education Office of Great Start (September 2016). 

 

Still hungry: Economic recovery leaves many Michiganians without enough to eat

KCLOGOjpg102x75pdficon

August 2017
Julie Cassidy, Policy Analyst

 

 

The economic gains of Michigan’s recovery from the Great Recession have not been equally distributed, and families at the lower end of the economic scale continue to struggle more than others with unemployment, underemployment and low wages.1 While unemployment has decreased substantially and median household income has risen since the Recession officially ended in 2009, the poverty and food insecurity rates have not yet declined to their pre-Recession levels, indicating that the employment and income gains among those with low incomes are too small to overcome rising food prices and other barriers to healthy food access.

Still hungry blog graphic 1Under these conditions, proposed budget cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other federal programs that many families rely on to make ends meet would leave millions of people without access to the fuel their bodies need to lead healthy, productive lives. These cuts would disproportionately affect children, people with disabilities, people of color, seniors and rural residents. Policymakers should preserve and expand existing nutrition programs that have proven effective and implement other state and local reforms that protect public health and the economy from the costly impacts of hunger.

NEARLY 1.5 MILLION MICHIGANIANS ARE FOOD INSECURE

Food insecurity: Limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food; limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable food in socially acceptable ways.

The causes of food insecurity and hunger include:

  • Insufficient funds to buy food;
  • Unavailability of nutritious food in a given area (a “food desert” or “food swamp”);
  • Lack of transportation;
  • Unaffordable utility bills; and
  • Poor oral health.

Hunger: A potential consequence of food insecurity that, because of prolonged, involuntary lack of food, results in discomfort, illness, weakness or pain that goes beyond the usual uneasy sensation.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service

Still hungry blog graphic 2WHO’S ESPECIALLY VULNERABLE TO HUNGER?

Children: Households with children, particularly those headed by single parents, are less food secure than those without children. Hunger creates an intergenerational cycle: it’s difficult for parents to raise healthy children to reach their full potential when they don’t have enough to eat themselves. In Michigan, about 338,000 children experienced food insecurity in 2014.2 Hunger peaks during the summer when kids no longer have access to the daily meals and snacks provided at school; for example, summer nutrition programs in Michigan serve only about one-twelfth of the children who receive free or reduced-price lunch during the school year.3

Still hungry blog graphic 3Rural Residents: Although Wayne County is the least food secure of all Michigan counties, a number of rural counties also report high food-insecurity rates, especially in Northern Michigan.4 In these areas, poverty is higher than average, full-service grocery stores may be rare and dental providers may be scarce. The lack of public transit magnifies these challenges. Ultimately, rural Michiganians may struggle with issues of food availability, accessibility and affordability even more than some of their city-dwelling counterparts.

People With Disabilities: Due to educational, mobility and workplace barriers as well as discrimination, adults with disabilities face lower employment rates, less consistent employment, longer periods of unemployment and lower earnings than adults without disabilities. At the same time, they often have increased medical costs and other expenses of living in a world that’s not designed to meet their basic needs. Thus, households including people with disabilities are more likely to experience food insecurity and to feel it the most severely of all food-insecure households.5

People of Color: A long history of public policy shaped by racism, from slavery to redlining to mass incarceration, has led to inequities that persist long after the removal of explicit racism from American law. For example, the median wealth of White households currently is 14 times that of Latino households and 16 times that of African-American households.6 As a result, African-Americans and Hispanics in Michigan experience higher levels of food insecurity than Whites and Asians do, a dynamic that has continued in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

Still hungry blog graphic 4

Seniors: Aging is often accompanied by increased healthcare needs, income limitations and mobility challenges. As medicine advances, people are living longer but may not have the resources to maintain a basic living standard, especially after suffering losses in the Great Recession. More than 160,000 Michigan seniors struggle to pay for all of their essentials, including food.7 Furthermore, they don’t take full advantage of all available anti-hunger resources—nationwide, it’s estimated that only 41% of eligible seniors have enrolled in SNAP, compared to 83% of the entire SNAP-eligible population.8

WE ALL PAY THE HIGH PRICE OF HUNGER

Still hungry blog graphic 5

 

Stigma compounds the negative health and economic impacts of food insecurity, as those living with hunger may feel shame over their situation and decline available food assistance.

Hunger would be even more widespread if it were not for a number of public agencies and nonprofit organizations that provide food and funds for vulnerable households. SNAP and other federal programs such as Women, Infants, and Children, The Emergency Food Assistance Program; the National School Lunch Program; and the Child and Adult Care Food Program attack the hunger problem through various local avenues—schools, food pantries, child and adult day care centers, emergency shelters, etc. State- and local-level partnerships involving government, nonprofit organizations, farmers and grocers further help fight hunger while boosting Michigan’s agriculture industry.

Still hungry blog graphic 6

A number of state and local initiatives to fight hunger in our communities depend on federal funds or are otherwise connected to federal programs, so structural changes and budget cuts at the federal level can put Michigan’s efforts at risk. For example, converting SNAP from an entitlement program to a block grant, as has been proposed, could cut benefit levels, restrict eligibility and make the program less responsive to economic crises.

All of these services help many families achieve food security, keep people out of poverty and stimulate our economy—for example, every $5 spent in new SNAP benefits generates up to $9 in economic activity.9 These resources, however, aren’t sufficient to serve everyone in need and address all of the root causes of hunger, so society continues to incur billions of dollars in avoidable costs every year through poor health and a less dynamic workforce. Ensuring access to adequate healthy food presents one of the most cost-effective opportunities to strengthen our state’s greatest resource—its people—and promote our state and national prosperity.

Still hungry blog graphic 7 report

ENDNOTES

  1. Ruark, P. & Singh, S. Michigan League for Public Policy. (2015, September). Labor Day report: Economic recovery eludes many Michigan families. Retrieved from http://www.mlpp.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Labor-Day-Sept-2015.pdf.
  2. Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count Data Center, http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/5201-children-living-in-households-that-were-food-insecure-at-some-point-during-the-year?loc=24&loct=2#detailed/2/24/false/869,36,868,867,133/any/11674. Accessed June 22, 2017.
  3. Food Research & Action Center. (2017, June). Hunger doesn’t take a vacation: Summer nutrition status report. Retrieved from http://frac.org/wp-content/uploads/2017-summer-nutrition-report-1.pdf.
  4. Feeding America, Map the Meal Gap: Food Insecurity in Michigan, http://map.feedingamerica.org/county/2015/overall/michiganhttp://map.feedingamerica.org/county/2015/overall/michigan. Accessed July 21, 2017.
  5. Food Research & Action Center. (2015, July). SNAP matters for people with disabilities. Retrieved from http://frac.org/wp-content/uploads/snap_matters_people_with_disabililties.pdf.
  6. Center for Global Policy Solutions. (2016, January 11). Racial wealth gap. Retrieved from http://globalpolicysolutions.org/resources/infographics/racial-wealth-gap/.
  7. Elder Law of Michigan, MiCAFE Network, http://www.elderlawofmi.org/micafe. Accessed July 3, 2017.
  8. Feeding America, The Senior SNAP Gap, http://www.feedingamerica.org/take-action/campaigns/solve-senior-hunger/the-senior-snap-gap.html. Accessed July 3, 2017.
  9. United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. (2016). Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) linkages with the general economy. Retrieved from https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap/economic-linkages/.

Parental incarceration takes devastating toll on children

KCLOGOjpg102x75
  July 2017
  Mallory Boyce, Kids Count Project Intern

pdficon

Parental incarceration takes devastating toll graphic 1

The nature of the parent-child relationship is a crucial factor for a child’s overall well-being, both during childhood and extending into adulthood. When a parent is incarcerated, that relationship is threatened and children are often left in an unstable environment, causing them to suffer the consequences of their parent’s incarceration in myriad ways.

During criminal justice proceedings, the crime and its punishment are all too often the only two factors considered—overlooking the consequences that sentencing and geographic prison placement will have on the children or family of the accused. This is an unfortunate oversight as the effects of having an incarcerated parent can be equally as traumatic for a child as experiencing divorce, abuse or domestic violence.6

Considering the rapid growth of both the federal and state prison populations across the country in more recent history, it is essential to understand the effects that a parent’s incarceration has on a child. Simply put, higher prison populations mean that more parents are incarcerated and that more children are negatively affected.

Parental incarceration takes devastating toll graphic 2While the effects of a parent’s incarceration vary based on a child’s specific situation and the supports available to them, negative consequences have been echoed in conversations with family after family.

IMMEDIATE CONSEQUENCES

Financial Burden: A family’s income drops by an average of 22% when a father is incarcerated, and on average remains 15% lower even when the father is released from prison.7

Sense of Shame: Shame is often induced by judgment from a child’s peers or other members of their community.8

Strained Relationship With Incarcerated Parent: Around 60% of parents in state prisons are held over 100 miles from their previous residence.9 This makes it difficult for a child to maintain regular contact with their parent, which could otherwise help minimize the trauma associated with a parent’s incarceration.

Parental incarceration takes devastating toll graphic 4Behavioral Problems: Behavioral concerns may arise during this tumultuous period of a child’s life.10 However, it is important to note that perpetuating the stigma that the child themselves is now destined for a “life of crime” can be damaging, and communities should instead work to properly support struggling children.

CONSEQUENCES FOLLOWING INCARCERATION

Difficulties in Transition: Parents returning from their incarceration might have difficulty adjusting to life at home and could find themselves to be emotionally distant from family members, including their children.

Criminal Justice Debt: With the average conviction-related costs (including fees, fines and other payments) for one person being $13,607, up to 85% of people return from prison with criminal justice debt12—money that they owe for being convicted of a crime which also accrues at a time when they have little to no income. This results in fewer resources for the family and children, placing an additional strain on the household.

Lifelong Consequences: The detrimental effects of parental incarceration continue into adulthood as well. It is one of several adverse childhood experiences that can be associated with higher rates of poor health, low life satisfaction, depression and anxiety among other concerns.13

Parental incarceration takes devastating toll graphic 3VULNERABLE POPULATIONS

The children most likely to have an incarcerated parent are often already the most vulnerable—children from families with low incomes and from communities of color. This disparity is due to a number of factors, one being the systemic racism encompassed by the more recent “War on Drugs.” In fact, African-Americans are around three and four times more likely to be arrested for possessing and selling drugs, respectively, despite being no more likely to sell or use drugs than Whites are.14

HOW CAN WE HELP?

It must be our priority to meet the needs of children who are faced with the many challenges caused by having an incarcerated parent. There is much that community members and policymakers can do to offer proper support to these children:

  • Communities and individuals must ensure that families are able to care for children both during and after a parent’s incarceration while also crafting an environment where children feel free from judgment and instead feel safe sharing their experiences and emotions.
  • Schools, faith-based organizations and other local groups must work closely with families and the criminal justice system to create multidimensional support for children and their families.
  • The criminal justice system must work to preserve the family unit—considering the child’s well-being during the arrest and sentencing, allowing children reasonable access to their parent during incarceration, and utilizing prison time to empower the parent to be able to provide for their family after their incarceration.

In their policy report, A Shared Sentence: The devastating toll of parental incarceration on kids, families and communities, the Annie E. Casey Foundation offers these policy recommendations to alleviate the consequences faced by children of incarcerated parents:

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

Download A Shared Sentence: www.mlpp.org/kids-count/michigan/a-shared-sentence.

ENDNOTES

  1. The Sentencing Project. State-by-State Data. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved June 13, 2017 from http://www.sentencingproject.org/the-facts/#map.
  2. The Annie E. Casey Foundation (2016, April). A Shared Sentence: The devastating toll of parental incarceration on kids, families and communities, 2. Baltimore, MD.
  3. Michigan Department of Corrections. (2016, August 23). 2015 Statistical Report. Retrieved June 13, 2017 from https://www.michigan.gov/documents/corrections/MDOC_2015_Statistical_Report_-_2016.08.23_532907_7.pdf.
  4. United States Census Bureau, Quick Facts Table: Michigan. Retrieved June 13, 2017 from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/RHI125215/26.
  5. The Prisoner Reimbursement to the County Act, Mich. Comp. Laws. 801.83 (1984).
  6. Hairston, C.F. (2007). Focus on the children with incarcerated parents: An overview of the research literature. Baltimore, MD: Annie E. Casey Foundation, 18.
  7. The Pew Charitable Trusts. (2010). Collateral costs: Incarceration’s effect on economic mobility. Washington, DC: Author.
  8. Hairston, C.F., op. cit.
  9. Mauer, M., Nellis, A., Schirmir, S.; Incarcerated Parents and Their Children – Trends 1991 – 2007, The Sentencing Project, Feb. 2009.
  10. Allard, P., Greene, J.; Children on the outside: Voicing the pain and human costs of parental incarceration, Justice Strategies, Jan. 2011.
  11. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, op. cit.
  12. Saneta deVuono-powell, Chris Schweidler, Alicia Walters, and Azadeh Zohrabi. Who Pays? The True Cost of Incarceration on Families. Oakland, CA: Ella Baker Center, Forward Together, Research Action Design, 2015.
  13. Mersky JP, Topitzes J, Reynolds AJ. Impacts of adverse childhood experiences on health, mental health, and substance use in early adulthood: a cohort study of an urban, minority sample in the U.S. Child Abuse Neglect. 2013;37 (11):917–25.
  14. Rothwell, J. (2014). How the war on drugs damages black social mobility. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

 

Highlights of the 2018 state budget

pdficon
July 2017

Budget Brief JPG USE THIS ONE

The 2018 state budget bills have passed the Michigan Legislature and are awaiting Governor Rick Snyder’s signature into law. Though there are still concerns about certain elements of the final budget, it was largely created with the well-being of residents in mind and included several hard-fought victories for the people of Michigan. Below is a list of some of the major highlights in the 2018 budget, along with some of the remaining issues. The League will be preparing a more thorough analysis of the final budget once it is signed.

HUMAN SERVICES

Access to Healthy Food

  • “Heat and eat” policy continued. The governor recommended $6.8 million in state funds to continue the “heat and eat” policy that increases food assistance benefits for nearly 340,000 Michigan residents. The final budget includes $2.5 million for “heat and eat” with the intention of using unexpended funds from this year’s budget that can carry over to the 2018 budget year.
  • “Double Up Food Bucks” program increased in current budget year. The Legislature included $750,000 in the current budget year and $380,000 in the 2018 budget to match a three-year federal grant to encourage the use of food assistance dollars for healthy foods.
  • Federal funding for nutrition education to increase. The budget designates an additional $10 million in federal funding for nutrition education programs for persons receiving food assistance.
  • Incentives for farmers markets serving families receiving food assistance. The budget includes $500,000 ($250,000 in state funds) for the purchase of wireless equipment by farmers markets so families can use their Bridge Cards to purchase healthy food.

Income and Family Support

  • No increase in school clothing allowance for children in families receiving income assistance. The governor recommended an increase from $140 to $200 per child annually. The final budget retains the current allowance of $140 per child.
  • Pathways to Potential program expanded. The governor recommended an increase of $5.6 million ($3.3 million in state funds) to provide human services to families through local schools. The final budget increased the program by a total of $4.9 million ($2.9 million in state funding).
  • Increased support for homeless shelters. The Legislature approved the governor’s recommendation to increase the rate paid to homeless shelters from $12 to $16 per person, per night at a cost of $3.7 million.

Child and Adult Safety

  • Expanded funding for the recruitment and support of foster families, as well as the Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative (MYOI). The Legislature approved the governor’s recommendation to spend $3.6 million to support regional resource teams to recruit, train and support foster families, as well as an expansion of the MYOI program that helps young people make the transition from foster care to independent living.
  • Prevention funding reduced. The Legislature approved the governor’s proposal to cut $6.1 million from the current year expansion of the Parent Partner and Family Reunification programs. The expansion funds are currently being used in Genesee and Macomb counties, and are intended to prevent the need for foster care and reunify children with their families when it is safe to do so.
  • More resources for adult protective services. The Legislature approved the governor’s recommendation for an additional $11.3 million for 95 new adult services staff who can respond to reports of abuse, neglect or exploitation of adults.

HEALTHCARE

Medicaid and Healthy Michigan

  • Healthy Michigan Plan continues. The Legislature and the governor continue to support the Healthy Michigan Plan with both federal and state funding. The plan provides healthcare coverage to over 660,000 people with low incomes. It is important to note that the Healthy Michigan Plan faces great risks should Congress move forward in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
  • Nonemergency medical transportation expansion altered. The governor had proposed an expansion of the nonemergency medical transportation program into additional counties. Currently, a contracted program is available in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. Other counties rely on local Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) field staff workers to coordinate nonemergency medical transportation. The final budget, however, does not include expansion of the private program and instead includes $1.4 million to expand the use of local public transportation entities to coordinate nonemergency medical transportation.

Behavioral Health

  • Increased wages for direct care workers. The Legislature approved the governor’s recommendation for a $.50 per hour wage increase for direct care workers. The wage increase is expected to help recruit and retain direct care staff.
  • Behavioral health integration moves forward. The final budget updates Section 298 to require a pilot project for full integration of physical and behavioral health in Kent County as well as three pilot projects to integrate financing. DHHS would be required to begin the process of implementation of the pilot projects by October 1, 2017, with full implementation by March 1, 2018. The language requires that all benefits and savings from integration be reinvested into behavioral health services. The stated goal of the pilots and demonstrations is to test how the state can improve outcomes and efficiencies. The budget includes $3.1 million to support implementation of the pilot projects including project facilitation, evaluation costs and modifications to state contracts.
  • State psychiatric hospital staffing increased. The Legislature supported the governor’s recommendation to increase staffing at state psychiatric hospitals. Total costs are $7.2 million, which will support the hiring of additional employees.

Public Health

  • Child Lead Poisoning Elimination Board recommendations funded. The Child Lead Poisoning Elimination Board, created by the governor in 2016, recommended 80 actions the state should take. The budget includes $500,000 to begin implementation of these recommendations.
  • Vapor intrusion response program continues. The final budget includes an increase of $815,000 to continue a new response program for vapor intrusion of volatile chemicals into homes and buildings.

Senior Services

  • In-home services funding increased. The Legislature approved the governor’s recommendation of an increase of $2.1 million intended to address demand and waiting lists for additional in-home services for seniors.
  • Meals on Wheels waiting lists addressed. The final budget includes an additional $3.2 million, including $1.5 million in state funding, to provide senior in-home meals through Meals on Wheels.

EDUCATION

Per-Pupil Spending

  • Per-pupil spending increased. The Legislature increased the per-pupil payment to schools by between $60 and $120, with larger increases for districts currently receiving the lowest payments. This is above the governor’s recommended increase of $50 to $100 per pupil.
  • Increased payments for high school students. The final budget includes $11 million to provide a bonus payment of $25 per pupil in grades 9 through 12. The governor had recommended a $50 per pupil high school bonus payment at a cost of $22 million.
  • No new funding for schools with declining enrollment. The Legislature rejected the governor’s proposal to provide $7 million in transitional funding to schools with rapidly declining enrollment.
  • Funding for cyber schools and shared-time nonpublic/homeschooled students will continue. The Legislature largely rejected the governor’s proposed cuts in funding for cyber schools and shared-time programs for nonpublic and homeschooled students. The governor’s proposal would have saved $55 million in funding reductions for shared-time programs and $16 million for cyber schools. The final budget leaves cyber school funding at current levels (100% of the minimum per-pupil foundation allowance), and caps shared-time programs for a savings of only $2 million.

At-Risk School Aid

  • Increased funding for at-risk students. The Legislature approved an increase of $120 million for the At-Risk School Aid program, bringing total funding to $499 million. The governor had recommended an increase of $150 million to a total of $529 million. Both the governor and the Legislature changed the distribution formula and expanded the definition of “at risk” to include economically disadvantaged students—including those eligible for free- and reduced-price meals; pupils receiving income or food assistance; or those who are homeless, in migrant families or in foster care.
  • Funding available for “out-of-formula” or “hold-harmless” districts that are not currently eligible. These are districts that have combined state and local per-pupil foundation allowances that are higher than the basic amount, even though they may have a high number of children living in poverty. While the governor recommended full funding for eligible students, the final budget caps payments for newly eligible hold-harmless and out-of-formula districts at 30%.

Early Literacy

  • Funding for early literacy programs increased—with a new funding formula. The Legislature agreed with the governor to increase funding for early literacy coaches from $3 million to $6 million. The Legislature also increased funding for the Michigan Education Corps—a program the governor had recommended eliminating—from $1 million to $2.5 million. A total of $20.9 million in early literacy funding that is currently allocated to professional development, screening and diagnostic tools, and added instructional time is combined and distributed to districts in an amount equal to $210 for every first grade student. Funding for professional development and diagnostic tools are both capped at 5%.

Partnership Districts

  • New funding available to support state partnerships with high-poverty and struggling schools. The governor recommended $3 million in School Aid funds (along with staffing in the Michigan Department of Education budget) for a new effort to develop partnerships with school districts and communities to determine what intensive supports are needed to overcome low educational achievement and prevent unnecessary school closures. The final budget includes $6 million for the program.

Early Childhood Education and Care

  • Child care payments and eligibility increased. The Legislature approved $19.4 million total ($8.4 million in state funds) to increase hourly rates paid to child care providers based on the Great Start to Quality rating system. In addition, $5.5 million in federal funding is appropriated to increase the entrance income eligibility threshold for child care assistance from 125% of poverty to 130%. Funds were included in the 2017 budget to increase rates before October.
  • Funding provided to comply with new federal requirements related to safety in child care settings. The Legislature approved $7.1 million for comprehensive fingerprinting and background checks of child care providers and others with unsupervised access to children in child care settings in the current budget year, as well as $800,000 for staffing to complete checks in 2018, and $1.4 million for oversight of license-exempt family, friend and neighbor care.

Flint Water Emergency Funding

  • School Aid funds for the Flint water emergency reduced. The Legislature approved the governor’s recommendation to reduce School Aid funds for the Flint water emergency by $1.4 million (from $10.1 million to $8.7 million). Remaining funds are to be used for: 1) expanded eligibility for the Great Start Readiness Preschool program ($3 million); 2) school nurses and social workers in Flint schools ($2.6 million); 3) Intermediate School District support for students that attend districts other than Flint ($2.5 million); and 4) nutrition programs ($605,000).
  • Provided funding to address health and safety concerns. The Legislature approved funding for additional water testing, food and nutrition services, health services at child and adolescent health centers and schools, and water filter cartridges and replacements, though it was $1.1 million below what was included in the 2017 budget. Increased funding of $380,000 was included for nutrition services in Flint through the Double Up Food Bucks program.

Adult Education

  • Adult education funding remains stagnant. The Legislature provided continuation funding of $25 million for adult education programs, and provided $2 million for pilot programs focused on career and technical education.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Financial Aid

  • Still no state financial aid for students who have been out of high school more than 10 years. The governor recommended $2 million for the Part-Time Independent Student Grant, with added language that it could only be used at community colleges. The Legislature did not include funding for the grant.
  • Increase for Tuition Incentive Program (TIP) serving students eligible for Medicaid. The Legislature approved the governor’s recommendation for $5.3 million in new Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding for the grant, bringing total funding to $58.3 million (a 10% increase), which is expected to support 18,500 students in the upcoming school year. The Legislature also approved replacing $4.7 million in General Fund dollars with TANF funding, making TIP 100% funded by TANF.
  • Increases for the Michigan Competitive Scholarship and Michigan Tuition Grant. The Competitive Scholarship is currently 100% TANF-funded and the Tuition Grant 90% TANF-funded, but all new funding comes from the General Fund. The governor recommended an increase of $8 million from the General Fund for the Competitive Scholarship, a merit- and need-based grant based on ACT/SAT score and estimated family contribution, and an increase of $3 million from the General Fund for the Tuition Grant, which helps students attend private not-for-profit institutions and is based on estimated family contribution. The Legislature concurred with the governor’s increases for both grants.

Tuition Restraint

  • Tuition restraint cap is tightened. The Legislature supported the governor’s recommendation to lower the tuition restraint cap from 4.2% to 3.8% or $475 per student, whichever is greater.
    School Aid Fund for Postsecondary Education
  • All community college funding is from the School Aid Fund. The governor’s budget continued the practice of using a portion of School Aid Fund (SAF) dollars to fund Michigan’s universities and community colleges, but for the first time, nearly all total state funding for community colleges is appropriated from the SAF. The governor’s budget used $231.2 million in SAF dollars for universities and $319.1 million in SAF dollars for community colleges, taking a record $550.2 million out of the funding meant for K-12 schools. The Legislature approved these appropriations.

CORRECTIONS

Prison Operations

  • Small cut in prison operations. The governor funded prison operations at a total of approximately $1.2 billion, spread across the state’s 29 prison facilities and including regional support systems for those facilities. The Legislature cut $6.5 million from prison operations by permanently closing housing units at five prison facilities.
    Incarceration Alternatives and Occupational Training
  • Wayne Residential Alternative to Prison is expanded to West Michigan. The Wayne Residential Alternative to Prison program provides low-risk probation violators an opportunity to avoid going to prison and instead enter a residential program in which they receive occupational training and cognitive behavioral programming. The governor continued funding this program at $500,000, and added $1.5 million to replicate it in 13 counties on the west side of the state. The Legislature supported the governor’s proposal.
  • Funding for training is maintained. The governor retained $2 million in current funding for the Vocational Village program in Jackson, which trains prisoners in the skilled trades, but eliminated $1.5 million in current funding for Goodwill Industries’ Flip the Script program in Wayne County, which provides education, job training and mentoring to 16- to 39-year-olds in the criminal justice system. The Legislature retained current funding for both programs.

Health-Related Services

  • Increase in Hepatitis C treatment. The governor requested a $13.9 million transfer from the current year DHHS budget to expand drug treatment of prisoners with Hepatitis C, which the Legislature approved at $10 million. Assuming the DHHS transfer would go through, the governor reduced the 2018 Corrections appropriation for this program by $3.19 million to $11.7 million, bringing the total funding for Hepatitis C treatment to $25.6 million. The Legislature reduced the 2018 appropriation to $6.7 million, for a total of $16.7 million when the transfer is included—an increase of $1.8 million over the current budget.
  • Increase for cancer (oncology) treatment. The governor added $2.3 million for oncology treatment for a total of $73.9 million, reflecting the fact that the number of inmates treated for cancer increased by 48% from 2015 to 2016, and that the growth is expected to continue. The Legislature approved the transfer.
  • Small increases for mental health and substance abuse services. The Legislature approved the governor’s $778,000 increase for mental health services (for a total of $61.2 million) and the very small increase of $5,700 for substance abuse testing and treatment for prisoners.

 

School aid and education conference committees include expanded funding for early learning and high-poverty schools

pdficon

Pat Sorenson, Senior Policy Analyst
June 2017

Budget Brief JPG USE THIS ONE

Joint House/Senate conference committees have resolved differences between the House and Senate School Aid Fund and Department of Education budgets for 2018, and the budgets contain several much-needed expansions in funding for high-poverty schools, as well as child care services for working families with low wages.

K-12 EDUCATION

BB School Aid and Ed Conf Committees Include Expanded FundPer-Pupil Spending: Two of every $3 in the School Aid budget are used to support per-pupil payments, which are the primary source of funding for school operations. For 2018, the governor recommended an additional $128  million to raise per-pupil spending by between $50 and $100, with districts currently receiving the lowest payments per pupil receiving the largest increase. The goal is to further reduce the gap in state funding between the lowest-funded districts and the highest.

The governor also proposed higher per-pupil payments for high school students, reduced payments to cyber schools, and a cap on funding for instructional programs for nonpublic and home-schooled students (cutting total funding by $55 million).

  • The Senate increased per-pupil payments to between $88 and $176—using $100 million currently provided to districts to offset teacher retirement costs under the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS). The Senate rejected the governor’s proposal for higher per-pupil payments for high school students, as well as the cuts in payments to cyber schools. The Senate cut programs for nonpublic/home-schooled pupils by only $2 million.
  • The House provided an across-the-board increase for all districts in the state of $100 per pupil—rejecting the use of the formula that provides higher payments for the districts that currently receive lower per-pupil foundation allowances. The House rejected the governor’s proposals to increase payments for high school students, as well as cuts for cyber schools and nonpublic/home-schooled student programs.
  • The conference committee: 1) increased per-pupil payments by $60 to $120, with the biggest increases going to districts with the lowest funding currently (total cost of the increase is $153 million); 2) rejected the governor’s proposal to provide higher per-pupil payments for high school students; 3) rejected the governor’s proposals to reduce payments to cyber schools; and 4) reduced the governor’s recommended cut of $55 million for programs for nonpublic and home-schooled students to $2 million.

The League supported increases in school funding that help raise the quality of education and mitigate the impact of inflation and fixed costs on school operating funds. In the last decade, the minimum K-12 per-pupil foundation allowance rose 5.7%—less than half the rise in inflation at 15.1%.1

Declining Student Enrollment: Since Proposal A, the reliance on a per-pupil foundation allowance for public school operations has meant that schools with rapidly declining enrollments can face at least short-term difficulties in adjusting to large funding losses. In recognition of the impact on local schools and students, the governor included $7 million for two years of supplementary funding for districts that have experienced large enrollment declines (more than 5% over two years).

  • Both the Senate and the House rejected the governor’s proposal for supplementary funding for schools with declining enrollments.
  • The conference committee rejected the governor’s proposal to provide funding for schools with rapidly declining enrollments.

The League supported funding to ameliorate the impact of declining enrollments on local schools and their students.

Funding for Students Academically at Risk: The At-Risk School Aid program is the state’s best vehicle for addressing the educational challenges children who are exposed to the stresses of poverty bring through the schoolhouse doors. The governor recognized the need to focus on high-poverty schools by recommending an additional $150 million in At-Risk funding for 2018 and by expanding eligibility. The governor also established a new set of goals and metrics for districts, including chronic absenteeism rates; English language proficiency in third grade; math proficiency in eighth grade; and the rate of enrollments and completions in career/technical education, advanced placement and dual enrollment programs.

Currently, the At-Risk program provides state funds to schools based on the number of children receiving free school meals (130% of poverty). Under the governor’s proposal, districts could receive funding for children up to 185% of poverty. In addition, the governor would provide funding to “out-of-formula” or “hold-harmless” districts that are currently not eligible. These are districts that have combined state and local per-pupil foundation allowances that are higher than the basic amount, even though they may have a high number of children living in poverty. The governor projects that with these changes an additional 131,000 children could be served.

  • The Senate increased At-Risk spending by $100 million and agreed with the governor on changes in student eligibility. The Senate altered the allocation formula as follows: 1) $5 million of the new funding would be earmarked for English language learners; and 2) districts that are currently eligible for At-Risk funding would be guaranteed at least as much per pupil as they are receiving in the current school year (applied to the broader base of economically disadvantaged students), with the remaining new funds (estimated to be approximately $41 million) awarded to all districts, including those currently not eligible.
  • The House increased At-Risk funding by $129 million and agreed with the governor on changes in student eligibility. The House also adopted the governor’s proposal to expand eligibility to “hold-harmless” and “out-of-formula” districts but capped the per-pupil At-Risk payment to those districts at 50%. The House added budget language indicating an intent to use a portion of 2019 At-Risk funds to reimburse school districts that provide transportation to pupils enrolled in schools of choice or charters.
  • The conference committee: 1) increased At-Risk funding by $120 million to a total of $499 million; 2) included the governor’s changes in student eligibility and funding formulas for currently-eligible districts; and 3) capped payments to newly-eligible “hold harmless” and “out-of-formula” districts at 30%. Under the conference agreement, currently-eligible districts will receive an estimated $777 per eligible pupil, while newly-eligible districts would receive $233. The conference committee did not adopt the governor’s new goals and metrics for the At-Risk program.

The League supported full funding of the At-Risk program, as well as expansion of eligibility to all children who are economically disadvantaged or at risk of educational failure.

Reading by Third Grade: Michigan law now allows for grade retention if children are not reading proficiently by third grade, making the need for early literacy programs even more critical. The governor proposed doubling funding for early literacy coaches at Intermediate School Districts (ISDs) from $3 million to $6 million. The governor also eliminated funding ($1 million) for the Michigan Education Corps. The largest component of the state reading initiative—funding for additional instructional time for children who are behind in reading—was retained at $17.5 million by the governor.

  • The Senate agreed with the governor and increased funding for ISD early literacy coaches by $3 million.
  • The House slightly reduced total funding for early literacy and allocated remaining funds ($25.4 million) through grants to districts, with an estimated $245 per first-grade pupil.
  • The conference committee agreed with the governor on the $3 million increase for early literacy coaches in ISDs, but increased funding for the Michigan Education Corps, from $1 million to $2.5 million. The conference committee consolidated all other early literacy programs and required that those funds be allocated to districts based on the number of first-grade students. Funding for professional development and diagnostic tools are both capped at 5%.

The League supports increased investments in early literacy, including programs that address learning in the earliest years of life such as early intervention through the Early On program, expanded home visitation programs, and a state-funded preschool option for 3-year-olds in high-risk schools and communities.

Adult Education: Despite a high level of need, state funding for adult education has dropped 70% since the 1997-2001 budget years. The governor recommended flat funding of $25 million for adult education programs in 2018.

  • The Senate agreed with the governor on flat funding for adult education and provided $2.5 million for career and technical education pilot projects in the state’s five prosperity regions.
  • The House agreed with the governor on flat funding for adult education.
  • The conference committee provided continuation funding for adult education programs of $25 million, and provided $2 million for the Senate-proposed expansion of career and technical education pilot programs.

The League supports an increase in funding for adult education of at least $10 million for $35 million total, which would help nearly 8,000 additional students and serve as an important tool for improving educational achievement and adult literacy—part of a two-generation approach to improving the state’s economy.

CHILD CARE AND EARLY EDUCATION

Child Care Subsidies: The number of Michigan parents with low wages who received assistance with their child care costs fell by over 70% between 2003 and 2016—in part because of the state’s stringent income eligibility standards and low child care payments. In addition to forcing parents to either stay out of the workforce or find care that isn’t suitable for their children, the state’s child care policies made Michigan one of only a handful of states that had to turn away federal child care funds because of a lack of state matching dollars. In recognition of the need for high-quality child care, the governor included an increase of $6.8 million in the current budget year (2017), as well as $27.2 million ($8.4 million in state funds) in the 2018 budget to increase rates paid to child care providers.

  • The Senate provided $23.8 million ($7.1 million in state funds) for increased child care provider rates, as well as $5.8 million to increase the income eligibility threshold from 125% to 130% of poverty. Rate increases would be based on the number of stars a provider has in the state’s quality rating system, ranging from a maximum increase of 50 cents per hour for providers with no stars to $1.50 per hour for child care centers with a five-star rating. Unlicensed providers (family, friends and neighbors) who care for infants or toddlers could receive an increase of 25 cents per hour.
  • The House agreed with the governor to include $27.2 million for rate increases for child care providers.
  • The conference committee included: 1) $19.4 million total ($11 million in federal Child Care and Development Block Grant funding and $8.4 million in state General Fund money) to increase child care reimbursement rates based on the Great Start to Quality rating system; 2) $5.5 million in federal funds to increase the child care eligibility level from 125% to 130% of poverty; and 3) $1 million for TEACH scholarships for child care providers trying to increase their quality ratings.

The League supported payment increases for child care providers as well as a boost in income eligibility levels, both of which are needed to ensure that parents can secure and keep their jobs while children are in safe and supportive settings that encourage optimal learning. In addition, the League supports efforts to bolster the supply of high-quality child care businesses, including the movement away from hourly billing to biweekly or monthly payments, which make it easier for providers to care for children from families with low wages.

Great Start Readiness Preschool Program: The governor recommended level funding for the Great Start Readiness Program ($243.6 million) which provides a high-quality preschool education for 4-year-olds from families with low incomes. Currently, the program is for children from families with incomes below 250% of poverty, but districts can expand it to children with incomes of up to 300% of poverty if they can demonstrate that all children with lower incomes who want to participate have had the opportunity to do so. For 2018, the governor restricted eligibility to children in families with incomes of 250% of poverty or less, and required that 100% of children meet that income eligibility level, rather than 90% as currently required. In addition, the governor changed the allocation formula to ISDs.

  • The Senate agreed with the governor on spending levels and on the new allocation formula, but retained the option of serving children in families with incomes of up to 300% of poverty.
  • The House adopted the governor’s recommendations for the Great Start Readiness Program funding and allocations.
  • The conference committee retained current funding and income eligibility levels for the Great Start Readiness Program, allowing children living in families with incomes of up to 300% to be enrolled—if all children at 250% of poverty and below have been served. Children from families with incomes above 250% of poverty would be subject to tuition on a sliding scale basis. Districts would still be required to contract with nonprofit and for-profit community-based providers for at least 30% of the children served.

FLINT WATER EMERGENCY

Given the long-term damage lead exposure can inflict on children, the need for ameliorative services and supports for Flint is ongoing. While there are investments in other state budgets, the governor recommended that School Aid funds for the Flint School District and the Genesee ISD be reduced by $1.4 million in 2018. Total funding in the School Aid budget would be cut from $10.1 million to $8.7 million, with remaining funds allocated to expand Great Start Readiness preschool program eligibility ($3 million), school nurses and social workers ($2.6 million), ISD support to Flint residents that attend districts other than Flint ($2.5 million), and nutrition programs ($605,000).

  • The House, Senate and conference committee agreed with the governor on the $1.4 million cut in School Aid funding for the Flint water crisis.

_________________
1. K-12 Schools Minimum Foundation Allowance History, Senate Fiscal Agency (Oct. 1, 2016).

 

Human services conference committee budget falls short in reducing poverty

pdficon

Pat Sorenson, Senior Policy Analyst
June 2017

Budget Brief JPG USE THIS ONEA joint House/Senate conference committee has resolved differences between the House and Senate human services budgets for 2018, and while funding for several League priorities was retained—including the “heat and eat” policy for food assistance—overall the budget fails to address long-term disinvestments in children and families living in poverty.

BB-Joint House Senate_Bdg fall graphicACCESS TO HEALTHY FOOD

Effective this year (the 2017 budget year), the Michigan Legislature approved $6.8 million in state funding to reinstate the “heat and eat” policy that allows Michigan to leverage additional federal funds and increase food assistance benefits for nearly 340,000 Michigan families, seniors and people with disabilities.

  • The Senate used federal energy assistance money to continue the “heat and eat” policy.
  • The House agreed with the governor to provide continued state funding for “heat and eat” food assistance benefits. The House also added language that prohibits the state from seeking a waiver to exempt able-bodied adults without dependents from food assistance work requirements in areas with high unemployment.
  • The conference committee: 1) agreed to continue the “heat and eat” policy using federal energy assistance funds; and 2) included House language to eliminate waivers from work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents.

The League supported state funding for “heat and eat” as a way to prevent hunger for children, families, seniors and people with disabilities. The League opposed work requirements for persons in areas of high unemployment.

Increasing Access to Healthy Foods:

  • The Senate included an increase of $380,000 for the Double Up Food Bucks program in Flint.
  • The House included a placeholder for a new “Michigan Corner Store Initiative,” which if funded would provide grants to small food retailers to increase the availability of fresh, nutritious foods in lower-income neighborhoods.
  • The conference committee: 1) included a place-holder for the Michigan Corner Store Initiative; 2) provided $500,000 to help farmers markets purchase wireless equipment that will allow them to accept food assistance payments; and 3) included an increase of $380,000 for the Double-Up Food Bucks program in Flint.

The League supported state efforts to improve access to healthy foods in lower-income neighborhoods.

INCOME AND OTHER SUPPORTS TO STABILIZE FAMILIES

Family Independence Program (FIP) Benefits: The number of Michigan families receiving FIP is at its lowest level since 1957, and the governor and Legislature are projecting that it will continue to fall to only 17,000 in 2018. As a result of falling caseloads, the FIP budget is expected to drop from $98 million this year to only $76 million in 2018—a reduction of 22%.

With fewer children being served by FIP and benefit levels stalled (maximum of $492 per month for a family of three with average monthly payments of $366), children are living in deep poverty, and parents are finding it hard to both care for their children and find and keep work. In recognition of this hardship, the governor proposed an increase in the FIP yearly clothing allowance from $140 per child to $200 for a total cost of $2.7 million in federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds.

  • The Senate rejected the increase in the annual FIP clothing allowance.
  • The House included under $900,000 to increase the yearly benefit from $140 to $160.
  • The conference committee failed to increase funding for the FIP clothing allowance, leaving it at the current yearly benefit level of $140 per child.

The League supported the governor’s recommendation to increase the annual FIP clothing allowance as a small step toward addressing the insufficiency of income assistance programs for children and their parents.

Expand the Pathways to Potential Program: The governor recommended $5.6 million to expand the Pathways to Potential program that places “success coaches” in schools to identify barriers faced by students and their families and make appropriate referrals for needed services. The program is currently in 259 schools in 34 counties.

  • The Senate did not fund the expansion but included a $100 placeholder to ensure continued discussions in the joint House/Senate conference committee.
  • The House rejected the governor’s recommendation to increase funding for Pathways to Potential.
  • The conference committee rejected the governor’s proposal to expand Pathways to Potential funding, but added budget language requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to dedicate 29 new public assistance field staff to the Pathways to Potential project.

The League supported the governor’s recommendation to expand Pathways to Potential, which is a promising model for meaningful school/community partnerships and a two-generation approach to school success for all children.

Increased Support for Homeless Shelters: An estimated 100,000 people in Michigan are either homeless or imminently at risk of homelessness, and families with children make up half of the homeless population. More than half of the state’s homeless are African-American, and the senior homeless population continues to grow significantly each year.1

In recognition of the problem, the governor increased the daily rate provided to emergency homeless shelters from $12 per night per person to $16, at a total cost of $3.7 million in state general funds. The governor indicated that he intends to recommend another $4 per person increase in the 2019 budget year.

  • The Senate rejected the governor’s increase in payments to homeless shelters, but included a $100 placeholder to ensure continued discussions in the joint House/Senate conference committee.
  • The House agreed with the governor to increase funding for homeless shelters, using both state general funds and federal TANF dollars.
  • The conference committee included the rate increase for homeless shelters, using both state general funds and federal TANF dollars.

The League supported increased funding for emergency homeless shelters, as well as policy and budget changes that could prevent homelessness such as: 1) increases in income assistance payments; 2) housing policies that could prevent homelessness; and 3) tax changes that benefit workers with low wages including a restoration of the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit.

CHILD AND ADULT SAFETY

Child Abuse and Neglect Programs: More than 1 of every 100 children in Michigan lives in a family that has been investigated for potential child abuse or neglect and over 37,000 are confirmed victims.2 As of February 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services was responsible for the supervision of 12,800 children in out-of-home care, with the majority placed with relatives, in licensed foster homes, child caring institutions or emergency shelters.3

While most families with low incomes are not more likely to abuse or neglect their children, living in poverty can limit the ability of parents to provide for their children’s basic needs. The vast majority (81%) of confirmed victims in Michigan’s child welfare system are there because of “neglect,” which can include a failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter or medical care.

More than a decade ago, the state was sued by a national child advocacy organization for its failure to move children quickly into safe, stable and permanent homes; provide children in foster care with adequate medical, dental and mental health services; and prepare children who age-out of the foster care system. To comply with a court settlement agreement resulting from that lawsuit, the state has increased resources for “tail-end” child welfare services, but relatively little has been done to prevent child neglect, including efforts to move children out of poverty.

For 2018, the governor recommended an additional $3.6 million for: 1) regional resource teams to recruit, train and support foster families; and 2) to expand the Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative (MYOI) to all Michigan counties (currently in 64 of Michigan’s 83 counties). The MYOI helps young people who are in or have recently exited foster care make a successful transition to independent living through housing, education, employment and community engagement services.

The governor also cut “one-time” funding of $6.1 million—approved in the 2017 budget year—to expand the Parent Partner and Family Reunification programs. Funds are being used this year in Genesee and Macomb counties to prevent the need for foster care, ensure that children are more quickly reunified with their families when it is safe to do so and assist parents after children are returned home.

  • The Senate rejected the governor’s recommendation to increase funding for regional resource teams and the Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative by $3.6 million, but included a $100 placeholder to ensure further discussion in the joint House/Senate conference committee. The Senate agreed with the governor to reduce prevention funding by $6.1 million.
  • The House agreed with the governor on regional resource teams and the Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative, increasing funding by $3.6 million. The House also reduced prevention funding by $6.1 million, and further cut funding for the Fostering Futures program by $750,000.
  • The conference committee: 1) adopted the governor’s proposal to include $3.6 million for foster parent support through regional resource teams, as well as additional funding for the Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative; 2) included $1 million in state funding to increase payments for licensing relatives as caregivers (not in the governor’s budget); 3) cut family preservation programs by $6.1 million; and 4) retained funding for the Fostering Futures program.

The League strongly advocated for increased funding for services that can strengthen families, prevent child neglect and reduce the need for out-of-home placements for children. The state’s efforts to improve its child welfare system as required by the court settlement agreement are important, but more needs to be done to prevent child abuse and neglect by strengthening families—including ensuring parents can meet their children’s basic needs and have access to mental health and other services.

Adult Services: As Michigan’s population ages, the need for services for seniors and people with disabilities continues to grow. A 2014 audit found that Michigan was unable to respond quickly to reports of abuse, neglect or exploitation of adults—in large part because of staffing shortages.

In response, the governor recommended $11.3 million to hire 95 new workers who could assist adults with high needs by providing protective services, independent living services and adult community placement assistance.

  • The Senate reduced the number of new adult services workers to 71 (with a delay in their hiring), resulting in total spending of $1.9 million in the 2018 budget year.
  • The House cut the number of new adult services workers in half to 47, at a cost of $5.6 million.
  • The conference committee approved only 35 new adult services staff for 2018, at an additional cost of $4.2 million.

The League supported the governor’s expansion in funding for adult services workers to ensure that seniors and people with disabilities are safe. Between 2002 and 2015, the number of adults needing protection from the state more than tripled, while the number of staff fell by 14%.

ENDNOTES

  1. Ending Homelessness in Michigan: 2015 Annual Report, Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
  2. 2017 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book: A Michigan Where All Kids Thrive, Michigan League for Public Policy.
  3. Children’s Services Agency: Foster Care Overview, Presentation to the House Committee on Families, Children and Seniors, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (March 9, 2017).

 

 

Federal budget cuts threaten Michigan

pdficon

June 2017
Pat Sorenson, Senior Policy Analyst

 graphic for pat.pub - Publisher

Now is the time for investing, not cutting taxes

pdficon

May 2017
Rachel Richards, Legislative Coordinator

Budget Brief JPG USE THIS ONE

As Michigan legislators continue to debate state spending for the upcoming budget year, the Michigan League for Public Policy advocates for a budget that helps make Michigan the place where businesses, communities and residents thrive, including affordable, high-quality child care; good public schools and access to college; safe communities; and drivable roads.

The Michigan Senate and House have approved separate versions of the 2018 state budget. Differences between the two will now be worked out in joint House/Senate conference committees which will be convening in the coming weeks after expected revenues for the upcoming year were determined at the May gathering of economists and budget experts.

Both the House and Senate budgets fall short in several key areas, and more could be done. The House underspent the governor’s budget by about $270 million, and the Senate underspent the governor by about $540  million. Neither chamber spent all state General Fund dollars available that could be utilized to help enhance many important state programs instead saving them to be later allocated for tax relief, pension reform or “rainy days.”

The League opposes tax cuts that further reduce the state’s General Fund or School Aid Fund because they could derail the state’s long-term economic vitality. The evidence is clear that investments in education and infrastructure are directly connected to economic growth. Yet, when adjusted for inflation, ongoing General Fund revenues in the current year are lower than they were 50 years ago—increasing the state’s reliance on uncertain federal funds.

WHAT ABOUT REVENUES?

The final budget will be based on state revenue amounts, namely General Fund and School Aid Fund revenues, which were determined at the second Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference of the year. Revenue estimating conferences are held in January, which create the basis for the governor’s proposed budget, and May, which provide the basis for the final budget negotiated between the Legislature and the administration.

At the May revenue estimating conference, combined School Aid and General Fund revenues were slightly up as compared to January. While School Aid revenues are coming in above January estimates, General Fund revenues are not as strong as originally anticipated. When combining adjustments for both the current budget year and next year, lawmakers will have $293 million less in General Fund revenues but $340 million more in school aid fund revenues to craft the 2018 budget. While the state is not in a deficit, and we are anticipating revenues to grow year after year, lawmakers will not be able to provide the necessary investments to help Michigan’s businesses, residents and economy.

BB-Now is the time for investing graphic

NO WIGGLE ROOM FOR TAX CUTS

What is clear from the revenue estimating conference is that the state cannot afford a tax cut. Rolling back the state income tax would ultimately eliminate a funding stream worth about $10 billion and put a significant strain on the state’s ability to fund schools, roads, communities, healthcare, safety net programs and public safety. Even a small 0.1 percentage point reduction in the income tax rate—about $250 million—impacts Michigan’s budget, which includes growing costs. In return for increasingly underfunded schools and crumbling roads, Michigan taxpayers would receive a small annual benefit, which for many would be barely noticeable as it is spread over paychecks. A tax cut would benefit the wealthy most, while the rest of the state would have to deal with worsening roads, underfunded schools and fewer services. Lawmakers should avoid the tax cut gimmick.

Michigan has been down the tax-cut road before. General Fund revenues have not kept up with the rate of inflation; between budget year 2000 and anticipated 2019, inflation increased 73% while General Fund revenues are actually down about 1%.1 Tax policy changes, including Personal Property Tax reform and the recent transportation package, will further constrain General Fund revenue growth. These changes, along with the ongoing costs of business tax credits, will cost the state over $2 billion by budget year 2022. At the same time as the state has been cutting taxes, lawmakers have started looking at spending reforms that put the state’s long-term fiscal stability at risk without improving educational or other important state services. The state will be required to spend more as it has been provided with less, which simply leaves fewer and fewer quality services for Michigan residents. Further tax cuts, and greater spending necessities, would only impair the state’s ability to pay for its basic needs.

Instead, what the revenue estimating conference shows is Michigan’s need for adequate and stable revenue streams, and lawmakers should start looking at revenue enhancements:

  • Regularly review existing tax deductions, exemptions and credits and eliminate those no longer meeting their purposes;
  • Improve the fiscal note process so lawmakers have a clear understanding of the costs of future tax changes;
  • Review Michigan’s current business tax structure to ensure everyone who uses state resources pays their fair share;
  • Implement a graduated income tax; or
  • Diversify Michigan’s sales tax base to tax personal services.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE INSTEAD?

In the light of lacking political will to raise revenue, lawmakers this budget season need to start looking at places to get the biggest impact—especially places where small state investments draw down significant federal funds. By providing a small amount of heating assistance, less than $7 million total, the state will leverage more than $300 million in federal funds, and 338,000 families in Michigan would receive an average of $76 more in food assistance each month. Additionally, expanding eligibility for child care assistance would help us meet state match requirements and ensure that we are not turning back federal dollars. Ultimately, investments above and beyond what have been included in either the House or Senate budgets are necessary to make sure Michigan becomes a state where all businesses, communities and residents succeed.2

ENDNOTES

  1. Elizabeth Pratt and David Zinn, Senate Fiscal Agency, General Fund/General Purpose Revenue Growth, State Notes, Spring 2017.
  2. For ways we can improve the state through the budget process, please see “Budget Briefs” produced by the League.

Reducing incarceration is good, but corrections spending must ensure adequate services

PDF

May 2017
Peter Ruark, Senior Policy Analyst

Budget Brief JPG USE THIS ONE

After peaking in 2006, Michigan’s prisoner population has decreased by nearly 20%, and prison-related costs have decreased and flattened during that time. The Department of Corrections budget is almost entirely funded with state general funds, and total spending is expected to remain at approximately $2 billion in 2018. Around $1.6 billion, or almost 80%, of the current budget for the Department of Corrections is used for custody, housing, healthcare, treatment programs and academic/vocational programs for prisoners.

PRISON OPERATIONS

BB Reducing incarceration is good graphic 1The governor funds prison operations at a total of approximately $1.2 billion, spread across the state’s 29 prison facilities and including regional support systems for those facilities.

  • The Senate cuts $41.6 million from prison operations, with the rationale that as prison populations are decreasing, prison spending should decrease as well.
  • The House agrees with the governor’s funding level.

The League encourages the state to do what it can to reduce the prison population and supports responsible adjustments in corrections funding that correspond to such long-term reductions. The League is concerned, however, that the Senate proposal cuts too much too soon, and that the magnitude of the cut could lead prisons to reduce important services such as healthcare, training and rehabilitation.

INCARCERATION ALTERNATIVES

Residential Alternative to Prison Program: In 2015, probation violators made up 28.3% of Michigan’s prison intake. The Wayne Residential Alternative to Prison program provides low-risk probation violators an opportunity to avoid going to prison and instead enter a residential program in which they receive occupational training and cognitive behavioral programming. The governor’s budget continues funding this program at $500,000, and adds $1.5 million to replicate it in 13 counties on the west side of the state.

  • The Senate does not include funding for either the Wayne County or Westside Residential Alternative to Prison programs.
  • The House concurs with the governor’s spending on both programs.

The League encourages efforts to help probation violators avoid prison and instead receive occupational skills training and rehabilitative services in a residential setting, and supports the continuation of the Wayne County program and the implementation of the Westside program.

OCCUPATIONAL TRAINING

Many incarcerated individuals do not have occupational skills that enable them to acquire gainful employment upon their release. Providing occupational training in the prisons increases the likelihood that returning residents will become employed and decreases their likelihood of recidivism and the need for public services and assistance.

Vocational Village: The governor maintains $2 million in state funding for the Vocational Village program for 200 prisoners in Jackson. The program trains prisoners in the skilled trades, enabling them to earn nationally recognized certificates before returning to their communities.

  • The Senate and House concur with the governor.

Goodwill Flip the Script: The governor eliminates funding for the Flip the Script program operated by Goodwill Industries in Wayne County. The program has been funded since the 2015 budget year, and provides education, job training and mentoring to 16- to 39-year-olds who have entered the criminal justice system—with the goal of keeping them out of the prison system.

  • The Senate budget doubles funding for this program to $3 million.
  • The House retains the current funding level of $1.5 million.

The League believes that occupational skills training programs are key to helping former prisoners reintegrate into mainstream society and attain gainful employment that helps their families become economically secure. The League supports funding for training programs that have been shown to work, and expansions of successful programs to reach more of the incarcerated population.

HEALTH-RELATED SERVICES

Between the 2002 and 2016 budget years, corrections spending overall increased at an average annual rate of 1%, while funding for prisoner healthcare and mental health services grew by nearly 3%.

Hepatitis C Treatment: The current budget has $14.9 million appropriated for drug treatment of prisoners with Hepatitis C. The governor has requested an additional $13.9 million from the current year Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) budget to expand this program. Assuming the DHHS transfer goes through, the governor reduces the 2018 corrections appropriation for this program by $3.19 million, to $11.7 million, bringing the total funding for Hepatitis C treatment to $25.6 million.

  • The Senate reduces the 2018 corrections appropriation to $4.9 million, for a total of $18.8 million if the transfer is approved.
  • The House reduces the 2018 corrections appropriation to $6.7 million, for a total of $20.5 million if the transfer is approved.

Cancer Treatment: For 2018, the governor’s budget adds $2.3 million for oncology treatment for a total of $73.9 million, reflecting the fact that the number of inmates treated for cancer increased by 48% from 2015 to 2016, and that growth is expected to continue.

  • The Senate and House concur with the governor on cancer treatment funding.

Mental Health Services: The governor increases mental health services by $778,000 for the 2018 budget year, for a total of $61.2 million.

  • The Senate and House concur with the governor on mental health services funding.

Substance Abuse Testing and Treatment Services: The governor provides a very small increase of $5,700 to cover a net increase in costs for salary and wage increases, for a total of $21.6 million.

  • The Senate and House concur with the governor on substance abuse services funding.

The League supports adequate funding for healthcare, mental health and substance abuse services. Lack of adequate funding for these services endangers the well-being of incarcerated individuals and poses a greater burden on their families when they reenter mainstream society.

House and Senate healthcare budgets: A mixed bag for families and children

pdficon

May 2017
Emily Schwarzkopf, Policy Analyst

Budget Brief JPG USE THIS ONEWith much attention being paid to healthcare at the national level as Congress and President Donald Trump continue to debate the fate of the Affordable Care Act, it is important to continue to focus on investments in healthcare right here in Michigan as final decisions are being made on the 2018 state budget.

HEALTHCARE FOR 650,000 MICHIGANIANS

Healthy Michigan Plan: The Legislature has continued to fund the highly successful Healthy Michigan Plan which went into effect in 2014. Currently, over 650,000 Michiganians receive robust coverage and services through this program. The continuation of the Healthy Michigan Plan is critical for residents and the state’s economy. Sixty percent of Healthy Michigan enrollees report that their ability to access primary care was better than prior to being enrolled, and 70% stated that they were more likely to contact a primary care provider before going to the emergency room. Eighty-six percent of enrollees have reported that their ability to pay their medical bills has improved since being enrolled in the program.

BB 2018 healthcare budget graphic 1For 2018, the governor has recommended continued funding through federal funds and required state matching funds to support the program.

  • The Senate and House agree to continue funding the program with federal and state funds.

The League supports adequate funding to support the Healthy Michigan Plan in the 2017-2018 budget year and beyond.

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

Direct Care Worker Wages: The governor recommended funding that would result in wage increases for direct care workers who provide services through the state’s community mental health services. For 2018, the governor requested a total of $45 million to provide a 50-cent per-hour increase. The request for this increase follows a report that highlighted the challenges of recruiting and retaining direct care staff. The report found that wages for direct care staff were uncompetitive compared to entry-level wages in other similar occupations.

  • The Senate recommends the 50-cent increase, but delays its implementation by six months.
  • The House recommends a per-hour increase of 25 cents.

Behavioral Health Integration: One of the hotly contested issues in the Department of Health and Human Services budget continues to revolve around budget language (Section 298) that was placed in the current-year budget calling for the integration of behavioral and physical health. Last year, a workgroup was created to discuss and look for ways to improve the coordination of physical and behavioral health. The workgroup was tasked with submitting two reports to the Legislature that outlined policy recommendations, recommendations for financing models and benchmarks for implementation. The final report was not due until after the governor’s 2018 budget proposal was released, so the governor recommended continued conversations on how to coordinate services while maintaining the core values adopted by the workgroup.

  • The Senate includes additional boilerplate (Section 234) along with making changes to boilerplate Section 298. The Senate recommendation calls for continued improvement in the system but also an unspecified number of pilot projects. There is legislative intent that calls for a move toward a single contracting model by September 30, 2020.
  • The House includes authorization for three pilot studies to test financial integration between Medicaid health maintenance organizations and behavioral health providers. The language requires the department to provide a report on the timetable and plan for full integration.

The League continues to monitor the progress and conversations regarding integration of physical and behavioral health services. As participants in the 298 workgroup, it is our belief that any action should continue to follow the core values and benchmarks as established. It is also the League’s position that we continue to work to provide competitive wages for all individuals, especially those providing critical services to our state’s most vulnerable residents.

PUBLIC HEALTH

Flint Water Crisis: The Legislature has been providing funding to address the health and safety concerns as a result of the Flint water crisis. For budget year 2018, the governor recommended $13.4 million total for food and nutrition services, health services at child and adolescent health centers, water filter cartridges and replacements, and other services.

  • The Senate supports the governor’s recommendation and additionally includes funding for the double-up food bucks program and additional water testing by the Genesee County Health Department.
  • The House agrees with the governor to continue to support the ongoing crisis response and recovery in Flint.

Lead Poisoning Elimination Recommendations: The Childhood Lead Poisoning Elimination Board, created in 2016, reported 80 recommendations. The governor included $2 million to begin implementation of these recommendations.

  • The Senate reduces the funding for implementation of these recommendations to $100—a placeholder to ensure continued discussions in the joint House/Senate conference committee.
  • The House allocates $500,000 in funding to begin implementation of the board’s recommendations.

The League is supportive of additional funding to address the concerns surrounding the Flint water crisis and continues to advocate for increased investments in our cities and policy changes that will ensure this does not happen in any other Michigan city.

SERVICES FOR SENIORS

In-Home Services: With our aging population, proper investments are needed to ensure that we continue to care for them. In order to address waiting lists, the governor proposed an increase of $2.1 million for in-home services.

  • The Senate agrees with the governor and increases the funding for in-home services to eliminate waiting lists.
  • The House recommendation does include an increase, but totaling only $1 million.

Meals on Wheels: With potential threats to grants that fund Meals on Wheels programs coming from the recent release of the federal administration’s “skinny” budget, it is important that as a state, we support efforts to provide meals to seniors. In order to address the growing waiting list, the governor asked for $1.5 million.

  • The Senate supports the governor’s inclusion of $1.5 million for senior nutrition services.
  • The House reduces the amount of funding for this program, only providing $750,000 to support Meals on Wheels.

The League is supportive of additional funding for senior services to ensure that our aging population is able to live out their lives in the comfort of their own homes.

Next Page »