Reports


Differences Remain Between House and Senate School Aid/Education Budgets

 

The House and Senate versions of the 2016 budgets for School Aid and the Department of Education include significant differences that must be ironed out in joint House/Senate conference committees. Yet to be finalized are:

  • The fate of the governor’s proposed third-grade reading initiative.
  • The Senate proposal to increase funding for adult education in the face of a House proposal to eliminate all funding.
  • Funding to expand the number of child care inspectors to ensure basic health and safety in child care.
  • The level of per-pupil funding for local school districts and public school academies.
  • A possible $100 million increase in funding for the At Risk program that helps districts serving high numbers of low-income children.
  • The House proposal to eliminate funding for bilingual education.
  • Funding for career and technical education and dual enrollment programs.

School Aid Budget

The governor’s 2016 School Aid budget totals $13.96 billion, an increase of approximately 2% over current year spending. The governor recommends that in 2016, School Aid revenues again be used to fund universities ($205 million) and community colleges ($256.7 million).

Approximately $2 of every $3 in the School Aid budget is used for the perpupil foundation allowance, which is the bedrock of school operations. Other major expenditures include special education (10%), programs for children at-risk of educational failure (2%), and early childhood education programs (2%).

Each year the Michigan Legislature determines the level of per-pupil payments schools districts will receive. After reductions in the per-pupil payments of $470 between 2009 and 2012, school districts receiving the minimum payment this year are still receiving $65 less per pupil than they were in school year 2010-11, and those at the maximum payment level are receiving $390 less per-pupil.

One goal of the school financing reforms adopted in 1994 in Michigan was to close the funding gap, and this year the gap between districts receiving the maximum and minimum payments was reduced to $848 per pupil.

Third-Grade Reading Initiative

The governor recommended a new third-grade reading initiative with total funding of $48.6 million ($25 million state funds). The governor’s initiative recognizes the importance of investments in the earliest years to ensure reading by third grade—a key predictor of school success. The data are discouraging. Currently, almost one of every three Michigan fourth-graders does not reach proficiency on the state reading test.

To improve reading by third grade, the governor recommended expansions in child care eligibility and rates, along with funds to increase the number of child care licensing consultants (see child care section below). In addition, some of the major elements of the governor’s initiative are:

  • An expansion of home visits to at-risk families to encourage early literacy activities and identify children with disabilities and developmental delays, with funds going to Intermediate School Districts ($5 million).
  • New funds for parent education pilot programs for families with children under age 4. The programs would be open to families regardless of income, on a sliding fee scale ($1 million).
  • Funding to test new elementary teachers on reading instruction capabilities prior to their certification to teach, as well as professional development for current teachers ($1.45 million).
  • Funds to train teachers and administrators in the use of literacy diagnostic tools ($1.45 million).
  • Funding for additional instruction time for students who need extra assistance with reading, including assistance before, during and after school, as well as summer school programs ($10 million).
  • New literacy coaches for K-3 teachers, coordinated through Intermediate School Districts ($3 million).
  • Funds to implement kindergarten entry assessments ($2.6 million).
  • A new oversight commission outside of state government to monitor progress toward improving third-grade reading proficiency. The governor’s proposal was based on a model in Kentucky where the commission has business and philanthropic support and leadership.
    • House: The House rejected the governor’s third-grade reading initiative (with the exception of several child care changes addressed below).
    • Senate: The Senate included most of the provisions of the governor’s third-grade reading initiative with the exception of funding for teacher certification tests and a research clearinghouse. The Senate included an additional $10 million for instructional time for children who are behind in reading, bringing total spending for instruction to $20 million.

Per-Pupil Funding

For 2016, the governor recommended: (1) a $75 per- pupil increase for all districts, bringing the minimum payment to $7,326 and the maximum to $8,174; (2) a 60% cut in funding for implementing best practices, from $75 million to $30 million; (3) a change in the criteria for qualifying for best practices funds, including a focus on school district fiscal stability, as well as early reading and kindergarten entry assessments; and (4) the elimination of funding for performance grants ($51 million). Although the governor proposed an across-the-board increase of $75 per pupil, for some districts that would be offset by the loss of funding from best practices or performance grants. Some districts could actually lose per-pupil funding if they are currently receiving both best practices and performance grants.

  • House: The House budget eliminated or reduced funding for a range of programs that are not part of the per-pupil formula—but are often intended to address the specific needs of low-income students and struggling districts—rolling those funds into the per-pupil allotment. Among the programs eliminated were best practices and performance grants to schools.

The House also relied on a formula that has been used in recent years to close school funding gaps by providing districts with the lowest funding with twice as much in increases as those at the top. Under the House budget, districts would receive increases ranging from $137 to $274 per pupil plus an equity payment of up to $25 per pupil for districts at the minimum level. This would increase the minimum per-pupil payment to $7,550, and the maximum to $8,236. How districts fare overall would depend on the dollars lost through cuts to other state programs that are not part of the per-pupil allotment.

  • Senate: The Senate also used the formula that provides twice as much to districts with the lowest funding, with increases ranging from $50 to $100 per pupil. Under the Senate proposal, the minimum state per-pupil payment would be $7,351, and the maximum $8,149. The Senate agrees with the governor’s proposal to reduce funding for best practices grants from $75 million to $30 million, and eliminates performance grants.

At-Risk Programs

For 2016, the governor recommended an additional $100 million for the At Risk program, bringing total funding to $409 million. Michigan provides funds to school districts for a range of instructional and non-instructional services for at-risk students based on the number of children qualifying for free school meals. This year, budget language was adopted to focus those dollars on: (1) improving thirdgrade reading proficiency; and (2) graduating students who are career and college ready. Funding for atrisk students has not been increased in more than a decade, remaining at $309 million.

  • House: The House rejected the governor’s proposed increase and added budget language requiring districts to use current funding to implement a schoolwide, multi-tiered system of supports, instruction and intervention—a model already adopted in some areas of the state.
  • Senate: The Senate approved a $98 million increase for At Risk programs, requiring that 50% of the increase be used by districts to improve reading by the end of third grade.

Adolescent Health Centers

The governor recommended continuation of current year funding for adolescent health centers ($3.6 million).

  • House: The House agreed with the governor.
  • Senate: The Senate increased funding by $2 million to a total of $5.6 million, with funds to be used to expand mobile teams to provide nursing and behavioral health services in underserved schools.

Early Childhood Education and Care

The governor recommended continuation funding for the Great Start Readiness program ($239.6 million). Over the past two years, Gov. Snyder and the Legislature approved a $130 million increase in funding for the Great Start Readiness preschool program for low-income and at-risk 4year-olds.

  • House: The House agreed with the governor.
  • Senate: The Senate agreed with the governor on funding, and added language allowing districts that are having difficulty filling preschool classes for 4-year-olds to also enroll 3-year-olds.

Funding for School Districts in Fiscal Distress

The governor proposed a $75 million increase in funding for school districts facing academic and fiscal problems. A new distressed district emergency grant fund was established this year with a state investment of $4 million.

  • House: The House rejected the $75 million increase.
  • Senate: The Senate increased total funding from the current level of $4 million to $8.9 million.

Adult Education

The governor recommended continuation funding of $22 million for adult education. Michigan has cut state funding for adult education drastically in the past 20 years from $185 million in 1996 to $22 million this year. The state is currently in the process of changing how it allocates those funds statewide, focusing on the percentage of people in a region who are not high school graduates or lack basic English proficiency.

  • House: The House eliminated all funding for adult education, but included a placeholder in the budget indicating openness to additional discussions in the conference committee.
  • Senate: The Senate increased funding for adult education by $7 million to a total of $29 million.

Career and Technical Education

For 2016, the governor recommended: (1) continued funding of $26.6 million for reimbursements to local districts and vocational/technical centers; (2) an expansion of career and technical education through early/middle college programs in the 10 prosperity regions ($17.8 million); (3) continuation funding ($1.75 million) for grants to encourage dual enrollments; and (4) expanded funding ($1.6 million) for the Michigan College Access Network to assist students in making college and career decisions, bringing total funding to $3.6 million.

  • House: The House increased funding for career and technical education reimbursements to schools and centers by $16 million over current year spending, rejected the governor’s new investment in early/middle college programs through the prosperity regions, eliminated funding for dual enrollment incentive grants, and maintained current year funding ($2 million) for the Michigan College Access Network.
  • Senate: The Senate increased funding for career and technical education reimbursements by $12.4 million over current year, and agreed with the governor on the early/middle college programs, dual enrollment incentive grants and the Michigan College Access Network.

Bilingual Education

The governor includes continuation funding of $1.2 million for bilingual education grants.

  • House: The House eliminates bilingual education grants.
  • Senate: The Senate agrees with the governor.

Department of Education Budget

The budget for the Michigan Department of Education grew significantly in 2012 with the launching of the Office of Great Start and the transfer of the state’s subsidized child care program from the Department of Human Services. Two of every $3 spent by the department is from federal sources, with the Child Development and Care program accounting for $110 million (38%) of the total $287 million budget.

Overall funding for child care, as well as the number of families served by the child care program, fell steeply in recent years, in part because of changes in state policy and reimbursement rates that fall far below market rates.

Child Care Services

The governor’s budget begins to address problems faced by working low-income families trying to find safe, reliable and high-quality child care by providing funds to increase rates slightly, and by allowing families to remain eligible for child care even if their incomes rise in some circumstances. Included in the governor’s budget are:

  • A new policy that would allow families to remain eligible for child care for up to one year, even if their incomes rise. The goal is to provide greater work and child care stability ($16 million, including funding for current year implementation).
  • A new policy allowing families that are eligible for care under Michigan’s current low-income guidelines (121% of poverty) to remain eligible until household income exceeds 250% of poverty ($1.5 million).
  • A rate increase for higher quality child care providers. This year, small rate increases were given to providers who received three, four or five stars on the state’s quality rating system—Great Start to Quality. For 2016, the governor proposes to also provide increases for providers earning two stars. In April, more than three of every four providers were not eligible for higher rates because they had not received higher ratings.
  • The House and Senate both agreed with the governor on these child care improvements, and included them in legislation that makes them effective during the current budget year.

Child Care Safety and Oversight

The governor recommended $5.7 million in federal funding for a 50% expansion in the number of child care licensing inspectors needed to ensure basic health and safety in child care settings. This expansion would reduce the number of child care facilities/homes that inspectors are responsible for from approximately 150 to 98—the national average. Michigan has come under federal scrutiny for its failure to ensure compliance with child care licensing rules, and recent federal law changes require states to do both pre-licensure and annual inspections.

  • House: The House rejected the proposed expansion of child care inspectors.
  • Senate: The Senate agreed with the governor.

 

 

Spending on Human Services Not Keeping Pace with Need: House and Senate Recommendations for 2016 Budget

Some critical new investments for low-wage families proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder in his 2016 budget are facing legislative opposition, including a new initiative to improve reading by third grade, additional funding for children at risk of falling behind their peers academically, and funding to make sure that state-licensed child care is routinely inspected to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations. Research shows that these investments help parents work, give children a better chance of succeeding in school, and ultimately, provide fuel for Michigan’s economy.

The rapid decline in funding for many major public assistance programs for children, the unemployed and adults with disabilities is an ongoing concern. Children are living in deeper poverty in Michigan, in part because of policy changes that reduced eligibility for income assistance programs, including stringent lifetime caps on assistance and the elimination of income support for an entire family due to the truancy of a single child. Fewer families can receive food assistance, and food assistance benefits have been reduced—in part the result of a state asset test.

The Michigan House and Senate have completed their versions of the 2016 budget for the Department of Health and Human Services, and differences between their budgets will be worked out in a joint House/Senate conference committee. Although the legislative timetable is difficult to predict precisely, final budgets are expected by the middle of June.

An additional complication in tracking human services spending is the governor’s executive order combining the Departments of Community Health and Human Services into the new Department of Health and Human Services. The governor’s revised budget for DHHS includes a cut of nearly $8 million, largely through the removal of some staff positions.

This report summarizes the governor’s fiscal year 2016 budget recommendations, as well as House and Senate actions, on services that were part of the former Department of Human Services—prior to the merger.

The governor included $5.73 billion in total funding for the Department of Human Services (DHS), including $978.9 million in state general fund dollars. The governor’s budget reduces state general fund expenditures by $2.3 million over the current year, while the Senate recommends a $7.3 million reduction and the House a $12.7 million reduction.

The single largest program in the DHS budget is the federally funded Food Assistance Program, which accounts for 45% of total departmental spending. Federal funds account for nearly 80% of the DHS budget, up from 70% in 2004. Other major programs include children’s services (20%), administration and field operations (18%), and other public assistance programs (8%).

Income Assistance

The Family Independence Program (FIP) provides minimal income assistance to low-income households with dependent children. To be eligible for FIP, an average family of three must have income below $9,780 annually and financial assets of less than $3,000. The maximum benefit for a family of three is $492 per month.

Total FIP spending and eligible families: The governor recommended a 6% cut from current year FIP spending (from $146.6 to $138 million), partly due to the continued and rapid decline in the number of families eligible, which the governor projects will be 31,400 next year. Policy changes made in 2011 resulted in dramatic decreases in FIP cases, despite continued high poverty rates, particularly among children. Between 2007 and the current budget year, spending on income assistance declined by 66%, and the number of families receiving income assistance is at its lowest levels since the Kennedy Administration.

  • The House and Senate agreed with the governor’s estimated caseloads and related FIP spending.

Out-stationed eligibility specialists: The governor recommended $20.6 million in private contributions and federal funding for additional workers that would be placed in health clinics, hospitals, community agencies and with private employers, rather than in DHS offices. The workers would determine eligibility for DHS services and help individuals find community services.

  • The House and Senate agreed with the governor’s recommendation.

Elimination of Extended-FIP: The governor proposed to eliminate the Extended-FIP payment that gives households who are no longer eligible for income assistance due to increased earnings a nominal $10 per month in assistance for six months after they leave the program, ostensibly to help them access other state services as well as allowing the state to continue counting the households in its federally mandated work participation rate. This minimal assistance has, however, counted against the state’s more stringent lifetime limits, hurting children in the long run.

  • The House and Senate agreed with the governor.

Children’s clothing allowance: The governor included continued funding of $2.88 million for the annual children’s school clothing allowance. The assistance is available only for children who are living with grandparents and others who are not eligible for assistance.

  • House: The House cut the FIP clothing allowance by $200,000 and retained current eligibility for the assistance.
  • Senate: The Senate agreed with the governor.

Drug testing for FIP recipients: The Senate included $275,000 for a pilot program to implement a suspicion-based drug testing pilot program in three counties, reflecting legislation passed in 2014. (PA 394 and 395 of 2014). The governor and the House did not include funding for drug testing pilots.

DHS office closures: The governor recommended closing 11 DHS offices throughout the state, including northern and southeastern Michigan, for a total savings of $2.2 million. An additional $3.2 million would be saved by sharing office space with up to 28 public, private or nonprofit partners. The governor’s recommendation is based on a model in Florida where workers are housed with local partners or satellite offices, or telecommute.

  • House: The House agreed with the governor.
  • Senate: The Senate assumed more savings from the office closures and consolidations, with a total cut of $2.4 million from closed offices, as well as $3.7 million from co-location with community agencies.

Enhanced employment and training services: The governor included $800,000 to expand an employment and training program for FIP recipients with significant barriers to employment. Services are provided through Michigan Works! Agencies, and the goal is to expand the program statewide after the pilots are evaluated.

  • The House and Senate rejected the expansion.

Food Assistance

The Food Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program) is completely federally funded, with an average monthly benefit for a two-person household of $245. More than 70% of FAP recipients receive no other cash assistance from the state. The number receiving food assistance began to fall in Michigan in 2011, the same year that the state imposed a new asset limit. Between budget years 2011 and 2015, cases dropped by 13%.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2014, food assistance recipients no longer receive $1 in federal energy assistance (LIHEAP) that previously helped recipients claim the maximum utility deduction which subsequently increased their food assistance. The 2014 federal Farm Bill increased the required amount of LIHEAP funding for eligibility purposes from $1 to $20 (often referred to as the “Heat and Eat” policy), which essentially left states with the option of increasing the minimum energy assistance benefit to $20, or accepting food assistance cuts, along with the associated loss of federal funds. Michigan chose the latter.

Total food assistance spending and eligible recipients: The governor recommended total funding of $2.5 billion for the federally funded food assistance program, an increase of $13.8 million over current year spending. The governor projects that 847,700 families and individuals will need help with food in 2016.

  • The House and Senate agreed with the governor.

“Heat and Eat” benefit reductions: The governor recommended no change in the policy that rejects additional federally funded food assistance because of a needed increase in the minimum energy assistance benefit.

  • The House and Senate agreed with the governor.

Asset test for food assistance: The governor recommended no change in the asset test that was imposed on individuals applying for federal food assistance, and which is a state option.

  • The House and Senate agreed with the governor.

State Emergency Relief

In the current budget year, $36.3 million is provided for emergency relief for low-income families. Included are: (1) $11.5 million for local DHS offices to provide emergency services such as housing payments or repairs, rent or moving expenses, or non-energy utility assistance; (2) $15.7 million for the Salvation Army to provide services to the homeless; (3) $4.3 million for indigent burials; (4) $3 million for multicultural contract; and (4) $1.8 million for the Food Bank Council. Over the last decade, funding for the State Emergency Relief program has ranged from $39.2 million in 2006 to a low of $33 million in 2014.

Local DHS office emergency relief funds: The governor included continuation funding of $11.5 million for local emergency assistance.

  • House: The House reduced funding by $500,000 in state funds, based on Executive Order reductions taken to balance the budget this year.
  • Senate: The Senate cut $1.2 million in state and federal funds, also reflecting current year cuts.

Programs for the homeless: The governor provides continuation funding of $15.7 million for Salvation Army services for the homeless.

  • House: The House reduced funding by $1 million.
  • Senate: The Senate reduced funding by $300,000.

Multicultural programs: The governor retains current year funding of $3 million for multicultural programs.

  • House: The House reduced funding by $250,000, funds that were primarily used for services for refugees.
  • Senate: The Senate agreed with the governor.

State Disability Assistance

The State Disability Assistance program, a completely state-funded program, provides cash assistance to adults with disabilities who are permanently or temporarily unable to work, and who have annual incomes of less than $5,400 and under $3,000 in assets. The average monthly payment for a single person is $225 per month, and the average length of time on SDA is approximately one year.

Between 2011 and 2012, the number of people receiving state disability assistance fell by 14%, and has steadily declined since. There was a 35% drop in the number receiving assistance between budget years 2011 and 2015.

Total funding for the State Disability Assistance program: The governor recommended a small increase in funding for the State Disability Assistance program – up from $14.4 million this year to $14.89 million in 2016. The governor assumes that 5,800 individuals will receive assistance.

  • House: The House agreed with the governor on the number of families receiving assistance, but reduced state funds for the program by $4.5 million, leaving total funding at $9.9 million.
  • Senate: The Senate agreed with the governor.

Energy Assistance

Michigan uses federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) block grant funding for four programs: the Home Heating Credit, State Emergency Relief, the new Michigan Energy Assistance Program, and weatherization.

Federal energy assistance funding: The governor’s budget included a continuation of current year spending of $175 million in federal funds for energy assistance.

  • The House and Senate agree with the governor.

Michigan Energy Assistance Program: The governor recommended continuation funding of $50 million for the Michigan Energy Assistance Program, which was created in response to a state law (P.A. 615 of 2012) requiring the DHS to establish a new consolidated energy program with a single, simplified application.

  • The House and Senate agree with the governor.

Child Welfare Services

Michigan’s child welfare system includes protective services, foster care, adoption, and family preservation and prevention services. To comply with requirements related to a lawsuit against the state for its failure to protect children, the state has been required to increase child welfare funding for staffing, training, and other programs. A shortfall is the lack of a mandate to adequately fund family preservation and prevention services.

Foster Care Payments: The governor recommended a small reduction in spending for foster care payments with an estimate of 6,400 cases in 2016 at an annual cost per case of $27,085. The governor’s budget also reduces the private agency administrative rate from $40 to $37 per day ($5.1 million), and rescinds a current year increase in payments to private residential providers ($3.7 million).

  • The House and Senate retained current year increases for private agency administrative rates and private residential facilities.

Child Care Fund: The governor recommended a decrease of nearly 3% for the Child Care Fund (from $182.2 to $177.3 million). The Child Care Fund reimburses counties for 50% of their costs related to the care and treatment of children who are wards of the court, including out-of-home and in-home services. The governor eliminated a county “hold harmless” provision that required DHS to pay 100% of the private agency administrative rate for new cases only, and provided funds to transfer cases back to the public sector.

  • House: The House provides $181.4 for the Child Care Fund, and continued the current year hold harmless funding.
  • Senate: The Senate provides $180.6 for the Child Care Fund and retained the hold harmless funding.

Adoption: The governor recommended a 3% decrease from the initial current year funding for adoption subsidies (from $247.7 to $239.9 million). Subsidies are provided to families who are adopting children with special needs, and include both cash and medical assistance. The number of families receiving adoption subsidies has been relatively stable since budget year 2011 at between 26,000 and 27,000.

The governor’s budget included savings of $6.9 million ($6.5 million state funds) in the adoption subsidy by restricting eligibility for a supplemental payment available to parents whose children had medical needs that existed before an adoption but were not identified until after the adoption was completed (a reduction already taken this year through the governor’s budget-cutting Executive Order). The governor left $1 million for the supplemental adoption subsidy payment.

  • House: The House eliminated the supplemental adoption subsidy payment, for a total cut of $7.9 million.
  • Senate: The Senate reduced funding for the payment by $7.3 million assuming only 100 families would be eligible in 2016.

Youth in Transition: The governor recommended $15 million for Youth in Transition programs, a slight decrease from initial current year funding. The Youth in Transition program assists 14- to 20-year-olds that are currently or were previously in foster care. Funds are used to provide independent living services, housing assistance, education or employment support, mentoring, and other assistance to meet basic needs. Youth in Transition dollars also fund intervention programs for runaway or homeless youths.

  • Both the House and the Senate approved small cuts in funding for the Youth in Transition program.

Prevention Services: The governor’s budget provided continuation funding for Strong Families/Safe Children ($12.35 million), as well as $38.86 million for family preservation programs, including Families First ($16.98 million), Child Protection and Permanency ($12.89 million), and Family Reunification ($6.49 million). Funding for prevention services has been declining while the number of children found to be abused or neglected has been rising.

  • House: The House cut funding for prevention services, including $500,000 from Families First, $500,000 from the Child Protection and Permanency program, and $250,000 for the Family Reunification program.
  • Senate: The Senate agreed with the governor.

Juvenile Justice Services

The governor recommended slightly decreased funding for the state’s three DHS operated juvenile justice facilities: W.J. Maxey Training School, Bay Pines Center, and Shawono Center. Funding previously provided to expand in-home community care programs to rural areas was reduced by 60%, from $1 million to $400,000 (continuing a reduction contained in the governor’s budget-cutting Executive Order).

  • House: The House cut an additional $400,000 from the W.J. Maxey Training School, and agreed with the governor on the continued reduction in in-home community care programs.
  • Senate: The Senate closed the W.J. Maxey Training School for a savings of $7.5 million. Funds are retained ($2.8 million) to close the facility and transfer the 40 youths housed there to new facilities. The Senate agreed with the governor on the continued reduction for in-home community care programs.

House and Senate approve Corrections Budget for FY 2016: Differences in community-based and supervision programs

 

After almost two decades of strong growth, funding for the Department of Corrections has increased only modestly in recent years. The governor’s proposed budget for 2016 reduces total funding for the DOC by 2.3% from current year spending, a decline from $2.04 billion to $1.98 billion. The House DOC budget reduces total spending by 2.8% to $1.97 billion for 2016, and the Senate reduces the budget by 3% to a total of $1.96 billion for the upcoming year.

The corrections budget is the state’s second largest in terms of its share of state general fund dollars, accounting for nearly 20% of state general fund revenues. The governor’s executive recommendation included $1.92 billion state general fund dollars, the House proposed using $1.91 billion, and the Senate’s proposal is built on $1.9 billion in general funds. All three proposals also reduce state general funds for Corrections by 2.3% (governor), 2.8% (House), and 3% (Senate).

The governor made his budget recommendations to the Legislature in February. Next, the two legislative bodies will appoint members to conference committees to settle the differences and devise a final proposal for the upcoming fiscal year.

Prisoner Healthcare

Since budget year 2000, spending on prisoner healthcare and mental health services has grown at an average annual rate of 3.6%. Between budget years 2005 and 2010, the rate of growth was 9%, but has since grown very little. A major contributor to the growth in healthcare costs is the aging prison population. In 1995, only 24% of the prisoner population was over the age of 40; however, in 2013, this figure climbed to 43%, with nearly 20% over the age of 50. Mental health issues also continue to be a significant issue.

Healthcare Services: The governor maintained funding for healthcare services ($75.2 million), the vaccination program ($691,200), and substance abuse testing and treatment services ($21.8 million) at the current year levels.

    • The House and Senate agreed with the governor.

Eligibility Specialists and Healthy Michigan Fund: The governor continued support for Department of Health and Human Services eligibility specialists ($100,000), and Healthy Michigan Fund administration ($1.08 million) for returning citizens to gain access to Medicaid.

    • The House and Senate concurred.

Clinical and Mental Health Services and Support: The governor maintained funding for clinical and mental health services and supports, which combine physical and mental health care services to provide more cohesive healthcare.

    • The House reduced funding by $901,000.
    • The Senate cut funding by $15 million to reflect estimated cost savings from moving to a unified healthcare contract.

Jail Mental Health Transition Pilot Program: The governor provides continuations funding ($1 million) for the pilot program, and transfers funding to the Department of Health and Human Services in an effort to streamline mental health diversion services programs and projects.

    • The House and Senate concurred with the governor.

Prisoner Reentry Into the Community

State prisoner reentry programs include education services to facilitate reintegration into the community. Prisoner education programs aim to provide marketable skills to offenders through academic, workplace, and social competency training. Prisoner reentry programs enhance public safety by reducing recidivism through a plan of services and supervision with state and local collaboration. A plan is developed for each prisoner upon entry into prison through parole and reintegration into the community.

Prisoner Education: The governor recommends total funding for prisoner education at $35.9 million. This includes a slight increase of $495,500 in additional federal funds. The governor also recommends replacing a portion of state general funds ($7 million) with Special Equipment Fund revenues, which come from surcharges on prisoner phone calls.

    • The House and Senate agreed with the governor on total funding for prisoner education of $35.9 million.
    • The House and Senate also recognized increased revenue from surcharges on prisoner phone calls. The Senate recommends using $7 million from that fund, while the House would use $9.8 million.

Reentry Services: The governor reduces funding for local reentry services by $500,000 to reflect an anticipated year-end lapse. DOC reentry program funding levels would be maintained at $11.12 million. The governor also retains funding ($149,000) for prisoner reentry legal services pilot projects in Kent and Oakland counties.

    • The House and Senate agree with the governor and reduce funding for local reentry services by $500,000, while maintaining funding for DOC reentry programs at $11.12 million.
    • The House replaces state general fund dollars for prisoner reentry with revenue from surcharges on prisoner phone calls.
    • The House recommends the elimination of funding for prisoner reentry legal services pilot projects in Kent and Oakland counties. The Senate inserts a placeholder for the program as a point of difference to be discussed between the House and Senate in conference committee.

Jail Overcrowding: The governor maintains funding for a public safety initiative that allowed for the reopening of the Flint lock-up to help the city with jail overcrowding ($4.5 million).

    • The Senate agreed with the governor.
    • The House eliminates funding for the initiative.

Goodwill Industries Program for At-Risk Youths and Young Adults: Currently, Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit in Wayne County receives grant funding ($2.5 million) from the state to provide education, job training, and mentoring to at-risk 16-29 year olds. The program aims to prevent people from going to prison. The governor eliminates funding for the program.

    • The House agreed with the governor.
    • The Senate maintains funding for the program.

Community Corrections and Treatment: The governor continues current-year funding for community corrections comprehensive plans and services, felony drunk driver jail reduction and community treatment programs, and residential reentry services.

    • The House and Senate agreed with the governor.

Public Works Program: The governor eliminates funding for the public works program ($1 million). The program was intended to encourage local governments or nonprofits to hire prisoners for public works projects and pay user fees for services performed. The program was never utilized.

    • The House and Senate agreed with the governor.

Field Operations

The Field Operations Administration is responsible for state parole and probation supervision as well as other methods of specialized supervision. There are parole and probation offices located in 10 regions throughout the state. DOC currently supervises about 47,000 offenders on felony probation and more than 14,000 offenders on parole.

The Swift and Sure Sanctions Program: The governor eliminated DOC funding ($1 million) that was for an interdepartmental grant to DHS to expand the Swift and Sure Sanctions program. The Swift and Sure Sanctions program is an intensive probation supervision initiative that targets high-risk felony offenders with a history of probation violations or failures. It aims to improve probationer success by promptly imposing graduated sanctions, including small amounts of jail time, for probation violations.

    • The Senate proposes to maintain current funding levels.
    • The House agrees with the governor to eliminate funding.

New Senate Initiative – Parole Sanction Certainty Pilot Program: The Senate budget includes $500,000 for a new parole sanction certainty pilot program to distribute funds to accredited rehabilitation organizations in Berrien, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Macomb, Muskegon, Oakland, and/or Wayne counties for operation and administration of pilot programs that are to be utilized as a condition of parole for technical violators.

 

The House and the Senate Appropriations Committee Retain Special Rural Hospital Obstetrical Payment

Both the House and the Senate Appropriations Committee have rejected the governor’s proposal to eliminate the special hospital obstetrical payment and voted to retain it at its current level in their recommendations for the 2016 budget for the Department of Community Health (now the Department of Health and Human Services).

This special hospital OB payment, a legislative initiative, was included for the first time in the current budget year. An increased obstetrical payment to physicians also was implemented in the current budget year.

For the budget year that begins on Oct. 1, 2015, the governor recommended the elimination of the special hospital OB payment, saving $11 million in total funds, but saving only $3.8 million in state funds. The increased obstetrical payment to physicians was continued in the Executive Budget recommendation.

The Problem

Over the last few years, a number of Michigan hospitals have closed OB units due to low Medicaid reimbursement. When hospital OB units close, it impacts the entire community, not just those enrolled in Medicaid. There currently are 17 contiguous counties in northern and mid-Michigan with no hospital OB units. To stop the erosion of obstetrical services in Michigan hospitals, the Legislature created a special payment for qualifying rural hospitals in the current budget year.

Testimony has been provided year after year on the importance of access to delivery and emergency OB services for pregnant women and their babies within a reasonable geographic area. While the special hospital obstetrical payment will not remove any of the red X’s on the map, it is intended to prevent more counties from closing their OB units.

With around 50% of Michigan births paid by the Medicaid program, it is important to recognize the impact of reduced hospital OB availability on low-income women and their families. Many may face significant transportation issues. Requiring longer travel to reach needed care and delivery services puts women and their babies in jeopardy.

Retaining the special rural hospital obstetrical payment is critically important to low-income pregnant women and their babies, as well as to the communities where they live.

 

Funding for Third Grade Reading and Adult Education Threatened in House Budget

 

The House has approved its version of the 2016 budget for the Department of Education and K-12 education this week, leaving out much of the governor’s forward-thinking third grade reading initiative, and completely eliminating funding for adult education. The House also ended many “categorical” programs that are targeted to high poverty districts that are struggling academically and financially, redirecting those funds to the per-pupil school payment.

In the Senate, the Appropriations Committee adopted most of the governor’s proposed third grade reading investments, and increased funding for adult education—after years of deep cuts. The next step is Senate passage, ultimately the resolution of differences between the bills in a joint House/Senate conference committee.

Reading by Third Grade

The governor proposed to spend nearly $50 million to help turn around Michigan’s disappointing fourth grade reading scores. A recent League report shows that the ability to ready by the end of third grade is central to a child’s success in school, life-long earning potential, and ability to contribute to the state’s economy. But roughly 40% or 40,000 of the state’s third-graders read below proficiency as defined in the 2013 MEAP test.

To improve literacy, the governor proposed a range of changes, including:

Child care enhancements ($24 million in federal funds): In addition to being a critical support for working parents, child care is a potential learning environment for thousands of Michigan children. The governor proposed to increase the quality and stability of child care by: (1) allowing very low-income families to retain their child care subsidies for up to twelve months even if they receive modest raises or promotions; (2) increasing payments to high quality providers, reflecting the reality that Michigan payments have been some of the lowest in the country for many years; and (3) hiring more child care inspectors to counter damaging federal audits showing Michigan didn’t have enough inspectors to ensure children were safe.

    • House: The House approved the extended eligibility for child care services and provider payment increases, but rejected the additional child care inspectors, despite the fact that all funds for the expansion are federal, and will need to be returned to the federal government for redistribution to other states if not spent.
    • Senate Appropriations Committee: The Senate Committee adopted the governor’s child care enhancements.

Other early interventions ($25 million): The governor’s proposal for improving third grade reading included: (1) home visiting programs for at-risk families; (2) parent education pilot programs; (3) testing and professional development, along with literacy coaches for K-3 teachers; and (4) $10 million for additional instruction time for children needing the assistance.

    • House: The House committee rejected the governor’s third grade reading initiative, although the Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid noted that a work group is meeting to create a plan to improve third grade reading, with recommendations expected in the next several weeks. Because the House and Senate differ on their support for the governor’s plan, early interventions will be part of the discussions in the joint House/Senate conference committee, although it is unclear at this time if the recommendations will encompass services for families with young children (ages 0 to 5) as well as interventions in the early grades (K-3rd grade).
    • Senate Appropriations Committee: The Senate committee agreed with most of the components of the governor’s initiative, and added another $10 million for extra instructional time for students, bringing total instructional funding to $20 million.

Additional funding to districts with high numbers of children at risk of educational failure ($100 million): If adopted, the governor’s recommendation to increase At Risk funding for schools would be the first significant increase since 2001. Districts are given funding based on the number of low-income students eligible for free meals, so it is a valuable source of support for districts struggling with high numbers of low-income children.

    • House: The House committee rejected the governor’s recommendation to increase At Risk funding by $100 million, and deleted language defining which children would be eligible. Instead, districts could only receive their current level of funding next year if they implement a specific instructional model—the Multi-tiered System of Supports.
    • Senate Appropriations Committee: The Senate committee included the additional $100 million for At Risk, and specified that 50% of that increase must be spent on third grade reading initiatives.

Adult Education

The governor did not propose to increase funding for adult education, which has fallen from a high of $185 million in 1996 to only $22 million today. An important component of workforce development in Michigan is an expansion in the number of people receiving GEDs and/or acquiring the basic skills needed to prepare for occupational skills training leading to employment.

With current funding, Michigan cannot reach many working-age adults who need services. Nearly 222,000 Michigan adults ages 25-44 lack a high school diploma or GED, but fewer than 7% are enrolled in adult education. In addition, more than 225,000 adults in this state are not proficient in English, but fewer than 5% enroll in English as a Second language adult education programs.

    • House: The House committee eliminated all funding ($22 million) for adult education, as well as all funding ($1.2 million) for K-12 bilingual education.
    • Senate Appropriations Committee: The Senate committee increased funding for adult education by $7 million, to a total of $29 million, and agreed with the governor to continue funding for K-12 bilingual education at current levels.

 

Clean Energy Brings Health, Savings and Jobs to Low-Income Michigan Communities

Full report | Executive Summary

On June 2, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants. Entrenched coal interests immediately seized on the proposal as one that would dramatically cut coal use, force the implementation of new and expensive technologies, and harm people with low incomes. These claims are disingenuous. In fact, the standards gradually will transform our electric system over the next 15 years. Each state will have a tailored carbon pollution reduction target and can decide how to best reach this goal through upgrades to power plants, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. This will save consumers money while providing reliable and cleaner electricity to meet our nation’s needs.

It is critical that low-income Michigan households share in these benefits. These households spend a higher percentage of their income on energy costs, which becomes more challenging when energy bills rise.1 Also, low-income communities are more likely to be near power plants, dramatically increasing the risk of more direct health impacts from the resulting pollution. Energy efficiency and renewable energy have the potential to help address these challenges.

The Real Reason Coal is Shrinking

Coal plants are being retired as cheaper power becomes available from natural gas, wind and solar resources, and as households and businesses increasingly save energy and money through investments in efficiency.

Since the mid-2000s, plans for 183 coal-fired power plants have been canceled and dozens of coal-fired power plants have been retired.2 Coal is becoming more expensive to produce, in part because it is harder to mine the remaining coal in many parts of the country, which makes the process more expensive. Moreover, because it is costly, dirty, and inconvenient, there is lowerthan-historic demand in the United States and in Europe, and an uptick in coal exports from other countries is crowding out U.S. coal.3

Michigan is currently home to five coal plants that received a failing Environmental Justice Performance grade, based on how they affect low-income communities and communities of color.4 The 75 coal plants nationwide that received a failing grade (including Michigan’s five coal plants) produce only 8% of the country’s total energy. However, those same 75 plants are responsible for 14% of sulfur dioxide and 13% of nitrogen oxide emissions. These coal plant emissions have a disproportionate effect on the surrounding communities.

Health Impacts

In the United States, approximately 6 million Americans live within three miles of a coal plant, and according to the NAACP, people of color and low-income households are more likely to live near these plants, with coal plants in urban areas overwhelmingly located in communities of color.5 The average per capita income in neighborhoods with coal plants is below the poverty threshold at $18,400, which is nearly 15% lower than the U.S. average income of $21,587. Furthermore, 39% of the people living in these neighborhoods are people of color, a higher percentage than the total percentage of people of color in the United States (36%).6 For example, 56% of white Americans live within 30 miles of a power plant compared to 68% of African Americans. Likely not coincidentally, African Americans frequent the emergency room for asthma attacks three times as often as white Americans,7 and roughly 30% of childhood asthma is due to environmental exposures, with average costs of $4,900 per patient—certainly a burden for any low-income household.8

The following examples speak volumes to the disproportionate effect carbon pollution has on low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

The Michigan Department of Community Health has deemed the City of Detroit and its nearby downriver neighborhoods the “Epicenter of Asthma Burden.”9 According to a report released by the Sierra Club, Detroit ZIP codes in particular are three to six times more likely to have asthma-related hospital admissions than the rest of the state as a whole.10 In addition, in 2014 the American Lung Association ranked Wayne County—the home of the coal-burning River Rouge Plant—as the region with the highest number of pediatric asthma cases in Michigan. Wayne County also is home to more poor residents than any county in Michigan, with 465,744 of 1,792,365 residents (or 25% of the county population) below the poverty line.11

Wayne County’s River Rouge Plant is one of the dirtiest coal plants in the nation and sits in the middle of the River Rouge community, where people of color make up 65% of the population—this led to the seventh lowest EJP rank in the nation.12 ”Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People,” a report from the NAACP, quotes River Rouge resident Yvonne White:

The plant is located right in the middle of the community. About a block and a half down [from the plant], you can see actual homes where there’s a full community of people living in this environment. This is a park that we’re standing in. In the park you’ll see children playing and there’s actually the Rouge River, which comes through here and we have a number of people who are fishing in this area. This is a mixed community but mostly minorities; you’ll find a lot of Latinos, a lot of African Americans in this area. And I believe less than a block or so away is an elementary school. And so, this area is very critical when it comes to environmental issues.13

Benefits of Energy Efficiency

Medical costs in these communities tell only part of the story. Compounding health issues are the high costs of living in a home that is not energy efficient. A 2015 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that energy efficiency, achieved through improvements such as better insulation, lighting, and appliances, can significantly cut the amount of energy used and lower bills for homeowners.14 Because the Clean Power Plan allows states to be credited for energy efficiency improvements in all sectors of the economy, the EPA predicts that electricity bills will drop by 8% for an annual savings of about $100 for the average consumer.15

Housing can be expensive, especially for households living on a low or fixed income. Programs such as low-income weatherization are helping to reduce costs of housing nationwide. Offered and implemented across the country, these programs specifically for low-income homeowners help buildings become more resilient and energy efficient in a variety of ways, including protecting against damage caused by precipitation and wind, sealing leaks, and optimizing and reducing energy use. These programs can help reduce the costs associated with owning a home, and are especially helpful in low-income areas. Multifamily housing accounts for 26% of all housing units in the United States and 17% in Michigan, and almost half of all very low-income renters live in these spaces.16 By increasing weatherization funds, energy efficiency improvements could save building owners and their tenants up to $3.4 billion every year nationwide.17

Energy Efficiency in Michigan

In Michigan, the first three years of energy efficiency programs cut energy use by more than 7.7 million megawatt-hours (MWh)—enough to power 900,000 Michigan homes for a year—and produced more than $800 million in net benefits for customers.18 In addition, the efficiency measures installed through the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard are expected to reduce annual carbon emissions by approximately 6.8 million tons in 2015 and up to 11.4 million tons in 2025.19 Furthermore, the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard has spurred more than $2.3 billion in new investments and created new clean energy jobs in areas of efficiency and renewables since its enactment.20

In Michigan, the Weatherization Assistance Program is funded with federal dollars from the U.S. Department of Energy, with occasional supplements of Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program dollars from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While LIHEAP funds are not always allocated to weatherization, as they also fund the Michigan Energy Assistance Program and the State Emergency Relief program, there currently is funding available for 2015 and 2016 for the state.21 The Michigan Department of Human Services receives the federal funds and allocates the grant money to Community Action Agencies throughout the state and one limited-purpose agency to administer the program. These agencies let communities know about weatherization opportunities through news releases, web posts, and working with other community partners to spread information. The average family saves $300 alone by reducing heating costs 20-25%.22 While some of the funds are used for weatherization efforts, more is needed for low-income housing weatherization to protect the most vulnerable citizens from dangers of exposure to inclement weather, pollution from power plants, and high energy bills.

Benefits of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy provides another opportunity to cut energy costs. Renewable technology can be created on rooftops or in fields of corn. It uses no water and has little to no environmental side effects. For coal- and gas-burning plants, fuel may account for up to 90% of the wholesale price of electricity, but wind and solar energies have no associated fuel costs.23 However, equal access and benefits will not be automatic as costs decline; states and utilities must push to proactively address this issue so that as renewable energy comes online, low-income households accrue their share of the environmental, health, and economic benefits.

Renewable Energy in Michigan

In 2008, Michigan lawmakers passed the Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy Act calling for renewable energy, such as wind and solar, to make up 10% of our state’s energy mix by 2015. Michigan is on track to reach this threshold by the end of the year. The Renewable Energy Standard created by this legislation is proving to be cost effective: a report by PJM Interconnection LLC, the largest grid operator in the nation, found that generating 30% of the electricity in its region with renewable energy would save consumers up to 30% on electric bills, even after factoring in the cost of additional transmission lines.24 Moreover, according to the DOE, costs for wind and solar energy are at an all-time low. This means that because renewable energy technologies are already competitive with conventional generation methods, and the prices are continuing to fall, transitioning away from some of the state’s failing coal plants to renewable energy sources makes sense. More recently, Michigan’s governor addressed the state in a special energy message, stating that by 2025 we should meet 30-40% of our energy needs through renewable energy and energy efficiency. Specifically, Gov. Snyder called for a 15% reduction in energy waste and 19-24% of the state’s energy coming from renewables.

Reliability

The coal industry often voices concern for the reliability of our electric grid, but these concerns are overstated. The Clean Power Plan would require only a modest shift in resources. Many plants currently slated to close ran only 38% of the time last year.25 U.S. electric grid operators have confirmed that nearly all the planned closures can occur without affecting electricity service reliability.

The reliability of fossil fuels has been exaggerated. In reality, the highly volatile nature of natural gas prices has contributed to volatile electricity rates—a major risk for low-income households. Figure 2 shows just how directly one region’s electricity prices depend on the price of natural gas. By diversifying our energy sources, we can reduce much of this risk.

Renewable energy’s intermittency has been exaggerated, too. Grid operators already have integrated more than 75,000 MW of wind and solar power into the grid and approved the retirement of tens of thousands of megawatts of old, expensive coal plants, all while preserving grid reliability.26 The output from renewable energy sources is increasingly predictable. And, through regional interconnections, wind from Arkansas can help power homes on a still night in Michigan.

Jobs

It is clear that switching from dependence on coal plants to renewable sources can cut energy bills, and can help boost the state’s economy with additional job creation. According to Environmental Entrepreneurs, a national community of business leaders who promote sound environmental policy that builds economic prosperity, more than 18,000 new jobs were announced in the clean energy field in the third quarter of 2014 alone.27 The NRDC found that if the nation shifted to clean energy under a scenario similar to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, $37.4 billion would be saved in electric bills in 2020 across the United States, and more than 274,000 efficiency-related jobs would be created across the country.28 That could mean up to 6,900 efficiency-related jobs in Michigan in 2020.29 Not only does the creation of new jobs in renewable and energy efficiency mean a boost for the overall state’s economy, but the average wage for someone employed in the clean energy industry is $44,000.30 This is higher than the average wage in the United States. More money in people’s pockets means more money available to spend within the local economy, giving the state an overall boost.

Conclusion

Carbon pollution is a dirty problem for the United States, with Michigan ranking as one of the top offenders.31 Home to five of the nation’s most offensive coal power plants, Michigan clearly contributes significantly to the country’s carbon pollution. These coal plants are driving up energy costs for some of our most vulnerable populations, and disproportionately contribute to negative health effects for low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. On an economic front, Michigan is importing 100% of its coal from other states to meet its energy needs. With the dependency on other states’ coal, almost half of our energy is produced with these imports. Of the more than 20 coal plants active in Michigan, with a total of 40 operating coal generators, nine are ripe for retirement.32 This means that due to outdated pollution controls, among other things, they have reached the end of their useful life and make no economic sense to keep running.

We know that the only way to completely stop the harmful effects of a coal plant is to close it, and fortunately with the innovative progress being made in renewable energy sources, we have an alternative. If Michigan can increase the state’s Renewable Energy Standard past the 10% goal mandated through the Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy Act, as well as increase incentives for multi-housing unit and low-income housing weatherization, families could benefit with cost savings on energy bills as well as healthcare. It is important to preserve and strengthen the EPA regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan, to maintain the cornerstone of our state’s measures and regulate the pollution affecting the health and well-being of residents.

 Endnotes

  1. For the purposes of this fact sheet, “low income” refers generally to households that fall at or below about 200% of federal poverty guidelines. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2014 a family of four living on $23,850 was considered poor, so a family of four living on $47,700 would be considered low-income. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “2014 Poverty Guidelines,” January 24, 2013, aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/14poverty.cfm.
  2. Sierra Club, “Proposed Coal Plant Tracker,” content.sierraclub.org/coal/environmentallaw/plant-tracker (accessed December 1, 2014).
  3. Energy Information Administration, “U.S. Coal Exports Fall on Lower European Demand, Increased Global Supply,” October 3, 2014, www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=18251.
  4. Adrian Wilson, “Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People,” National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Indigenous Environmental Network, and Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, 2011, naacp.3cdn.net/afe739fe212e246f76_i8m6yek0x.pdf.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Martha Keating and Felicia Davis, “Air of Injustice,” Clear the Air and the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, October 2002, www.energyjustice.net/files/coal/Air_of_Injustice.pdf.
  8. Miriam Cisternas et al., “A Comprehensive Study of the Direct and Indirect Costs of Adult Asthma,” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 111, no. 6 (2003): 1212, www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(03)01071-6/pdf.
  9. Michigan Department of Community Health, “Chapter 12: Detroit – The Epicenter of Asthma Burden,” Epidemiology of Asthma in Michigan, 2010, michigan.gov/documents/mdch/14_Ch12_Detroit_Epicenter_of_Asthma_276687_7.pdf (Accessed March 23, 2015).
  10. Sierra Club, “Wayne County’s Mounting Pollution Problem: Michigan Must Act on Federal Mandate to Reduce Harmful Sulfur Dioxide Emissions, Report, https://content.sierraclub.org/coal/sites/content.sierraclub.org.coal/files/docs/0778%20SO2%20Michigan%20Fact%20Sheet%2003_x1a%20%282%29.pdf
  11. American Lung Association, State of the Air 2014, Report, www.stateoftheair.org/2014/assets/ALA-SOTA-2014-Full.pdf.
  12. Wilson, “Coal Blooded”
  13. Ibid.
  14. Natural Resources Defense Council (hereinafter NRDC), “Michigan’s Clean Energy Future,” Issue Brief, March 2015, www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/files/clean-power-plan-state-options-MI.pdf.
  15. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “By the Numbers: Cutting Carbon Pollution from Power Plants,” June 2014, www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-06/documents/20140602fs-important-numbers-clean-power-plan.pdf.
  16. The federal government defines “very low income” as households that earn less than half the national median income. U.S. Census Bureau, “Population and Housing Narrative Profile: 2011,” factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_11_1YR_NP01&prodType=narrative_profile (accessed March 23, 2015). Gary Pivo, “Energy Efficiency and Its Relationship to Household Income in Multifamily Rental Housing,” Fannie Mae, September 12, 2012, www.fanniemae.com/content/fact_sheet/energy-efficiency-rental-housing.pdf. Michigan numbers: The American Community Survey 5 year estimates, 2009-2013
  17. Anne McKibben et al., “Engaging as Partners in Energy Efficiency: Multifamily Housing and Utilities,” American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and CNT Energy (now Elevate Energy), January 2012, www.elevateenergy.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Engaging_as_Partners_in_Energy_Efficiency_Multifamily_Housing_and_Utilities.pdf.
  18. NRDC with Energy Futures Group, Building on Michigan’s Energy Efficiency Accomplishments, April 25, 2013, http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/rstanfield/NRDC,%20Building%20on%20Michigan’s%20Energy%20Efficiency%20Accomplishments.pdf.
  19. Jim Grevatt and Chris Neme, Projections for Power Sector Carbon Emissions Reductions: Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, Energy Futures Group, memo, April 17, 2014.
  20. American Wind Energy Association, Michigan Wind Energy, August 2014, http://awea.files.cms-plus.com/FileDownloads/pdfs/Michigan.pdf.
  21. U.S. Department of Energy grant dollars for Michigan have been pretty consistent with only small differences in increases or decreases over the years.
  22. Benefits.gov, “Michigan Weatherization Assistance Program,” www.benefits.gov/benefits/benefit-details/1861 (Accessed March 23, 2015).
  23. Mark Bolinger and Ryan Wiser, “The Value of Renewable Energy as a Hedge Against Fuel Price Risk: Analytic Contributions from Economic and Finance Theory,” LBNL, August 17, 2009, escholarship.org/uc/item/65g8f2t4.
  24. General Electric International, Inc., “PJM Renewable Integration Study,” prepared for PJM Interconnection LLC, March 31, 2014, /www.pjm.com/~/media/committees-groups/committees/mic/20140303/20140303-pris-executive-summary.ashx.
  25. Moore, J., “Environmental Standards Will Help Reduce Consumer Electricity Bills,” NRDC Switchboard, November 4, 2014, switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/jmoore/environmental_standards_will_h.html.
  26. There were 61,327 MW of wind installed capacity and 15,900 MW of solar by mid-2014. American Wind Energy Association, “Wind Energy Facts at a Glance,” www.awea.org/Resources/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=5059&navItemNumber=742 (accessed November 25, 2014). SEIA, “Solar Energy Facts: Q3 2014,” September 22, 2014, www.seia.org/sites/default/files/Q3%202014%20SMI%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf (accessed November 25, 2014).
  27. Environmental Entrepreneurs, “Q3 2014 Jobs Report,” November 2014, cleanenergyworksforus.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/2014_Q3_Report_final.pdf.
  28. NRDC, “America Can Create 274,000 Efficiency-Related Jobs, Cut Electric Bills by Billions, and Curb Carbon Pollution,” May 2014, www.nrdc.org/air/pollution-standards/files/national-cps-bills-jobs-FS.pdf.
  29. NRDC, “Michigan Can Create 6,900 Efficiency-Related Jobs, Cut Electricity Bills, and Curb Carbon Pollution,” Fact Sheet, May 2014, http://www.nrdc.org/air/pollution-standards/files/cps-state-benefits-mi.pdf.
  30. Mark Muro, Jonathan Rothwell, and Devashree Saha, “Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment,” Brookings Institution and Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, 2011, www.brookings.edu/~/media/series/resources/0713_clean_economy.pdf.
  31. Union of Concerned Scientists, “Michigan’s Dependence on Imported Coal,” Burning Coal, Burning Cash: 2014 Update, www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/clean_energy/Michigan-Coal-Imports-BCBC-Update-2014.pdf.
  32. Union of Concerned Scientists, “Ripe for Retirement: The Case for Closing Michigan’s Costliest Coal Plants,” November 2012 http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/clean_energy/Ripe-for-Retirement-Michigan-Report.pdf

 

 

House Subcommittee Rejects Governor’s Third Grade Reading Initiative

 

The Senate subcommittee developing next year’s education budget endorsed Gov. Snyder’s forward-thinking initiative to ensure that children can read proficiently by third grade. Only the day before, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education had rejected most of the governor’s recommendations and left children without early interventions needed to meet that critical educational milestone.

The next step is for the subcommittee bills to be acted on by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Their versions of the bills will be sent to the floors of the House and Senate for debate and approval. Any differences between the final House and Senate versions will be worked out in joint House/Senate conference committees. Legislative leaders have said they would like to complete action on the budgets by the end of May.

A recent League report shows that the ability to read by the end of third grade is central to a child’s success in school, life-long earning potential, and ability to contribute to the state’s economy. But almost two of every five Michigan third-graders do not demonstrate reading proficiency on the MEAP, with one in four scoring at the lowest level.

The research is clear: Learning begins in infancy, with the most rapid and critical brain development occurring during the first three years of life. States that have seen the most dramatic improvements in early literacy have made substantial investments in early interventions. The governor’s 2016 initiative recognizes the importance of the early years and deserves support.

Governor’s Reading Initiative and Legislative Actions to Date

There are three basic components to the governor’s third grade reading initiative. Below are the governor’s recommendations and actions taken by the House and Senate subcommittees:

(1) Investment of $23.6 million in federal funds for improvements in child care quality and access, funded through the Department of Education budget.

Governor’s Proposal:

  • $6.1 million for provider payment increases for licensed child care centers and homes that accept children with a state subsidy, and that have at least two stars on Michigan’s five-star quality rating system.
  • $16 million to allow families to remain eligible for the child care subsidy for up to one year, even if their incomes rise.
  • $1.5 million to allow families to earn up to 250% of poverty without losing child care subsidies—but only if families initially qualified at the current eligibility threshold of 121% of poverty.
  • $5.7 million to hire more child care inspectors needed to ensure that state-licensed child care centers and homes are meeting basic health and safety requirements.

The number of low-wage working families able to receive a child care subsidy has dropped by nearly 70% since 2003, in part because of the state’s low eligibility rates and provider payments. As a result, Michigan has unspent federal child care funds that the governor proposes to use to enhance quality and expand access. While this is a small step forward in a grossly underfunded system, it moves the state in the right direction after years of neglect for the well-being of thousands of vulnerable infants and toddlers whose parents must work to support their basic needs.

Legislative Actions to Date: The Senate subcommittee approved all of the governor’s recommended changes for child care. The House subcommittee rejected the expansion of child care licensing consultants, but approved the other child care enhancements. The increases in child care rates and eligibility were included in a supplemental budget bill recently signed by the governor, so will be implemented in the current budget year. Funds to expand child care licensing staff were not part of the supplemental budget bill.

(2) The dedication of $25 million in School Aid funds for services to support families and encourage early literacy, as well as improve reading instruction in grades K-3.

Governor’s Proposal:

  • $5 million for home visiting programs for at-risk families to encourage early literacy activities.
  • $1 million for parent education pilot programs.
  • $5.9 million for testing and professional development for elementary teachers and administrators to ensure they have the best tools to diagnose and improve reading difficulties in children, along with literacy coaches for K-3 teachers.
  • $10 million for additional instruction time (before, during or after school, or in the summer) for children who need extra assistance.
  • $2.6 million for continued implementation of the Kindergarten Entry Assessment.

Legislative Actions to Date: The Senate subcommittee approved the governor’s recommended third grade reading initiative, and added an extra $10 million for additional instruction time for students who are not on track with reading skills. The House subcommittee rejected the governor’s third grade reading initiative.

(3) An additional $100 million for children at risk of falling behind their peers academically, with funds to be used in part to ensure that children are reading at grade level by the end of third grade.

Governor’s Proposal:

  • An increase of $100 million in At Risk School Aid funding—the first significant increase since 2001—bringing total funding to $409 million.
  • Funds would continue to be allocated to districts based on the number of students eligible for free meals, giving additional resources to districts educating a high number of low-income children.
  • At Risk funds are to continue to be used to improve third grade reading, as well as ensure that youths are career and college ready when they graduate from high school.

Legislative Actions to Date: The Senate Subcommittee approved the additional $100 million for At Risk services, and added language that requires that at least 50% of the increase be spent on third grade reading—in addition to existing spending. The House Subcommittee rejected the increase in At Risk funds.

Early Intervention Can Improve Reading Skills

High-quality child care allows parents to work to support their children, and prepares children to succeed in school.

  • Child care is both a support for working parents and employers, and an environment where children learn. More than half of children under age 5 are in child care at least part of the week, and while high-quality child care can help them succeed in school, low-quality care can threaten their health, safety and development.
  • Increases in child care payment rates and eligibility proposed by the governor and endorsed by the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees on School Aid/Education help to improve child care quality and allow parents to keep care longer even if their income rises. State policies, including low provider payments and income eligibility thresholds have contributed to a 70% drop in the number of families provided subsidies, and this trend needs to be reversed if Michigan is going to be a “comeback state for all.” A lack of access to affordable child care has made it impossible for many parents to work to support their children, and the economy has suffered. For example, a single mother with two children in care earning $11 an hour who gets a 50-cent raise (bringing income to $23,880 for a family of three) would lose her state child care subsidy, and child care costs would jump from about $3,000 per year to $18,000—a complete barrier to work. The quality and stability of a child’s relationships, including with child care providers, are critical to healthy development and future school success.
  • Although not part of the governor’s budget or the subcommittee budgets, an increase in the initial entry-level eligibility rate for child care, which has been at 121% of poverty since 2003, is needed to help low-wage parents enter the workforce. While it is helpful that parents may be able to keep their child care longer, even with small wage increases, Michigan still will have the second lowest initial income eligibility thresholds for child care in the country. An increase in the entry eligibility level from 121% to 150% of poverty would be a good start.
  • At a minimum, the state must ensure that all children in licensed child care are in settings that comply with basic state health and safety requirements. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education rejected the governor’s proposal to increase the number of child care inspectors charged with ensuring that licensed child care centers and homes meet basic state health and safety regulations. Recent federal audits have found serious problems in Michigan’s oversight of child care safety, including the failure to do all required criminal record and protective services background checks for people coming in contact with young children, as well as hazardous conditions such as blocked fire exits, unsupervised toddlers, and chemicals within reach of children. The governor and Senate subcommittee have supported funding for additional child care inspectors, bringing Michigan from one of the highest ratios of inspectors to child care providers (1:153) to the national average (1:98).

The governor’s recommendation to invest in early intervention services is an important step in improving children’s ability to read by third grade.

  • Efforts to help children read must begin long before they reach third grade or even kindergarten. Because the most rapid and critical brain development occurs in the first three years of life, programs that foster maternal and infant mental and physical health are critical. Examples include prenatal care, childhood lead poisoning prevention, home visiting programs that help parents with early literacy activities, and better efforts to identify infants and toddlers with disabilities and developmental delays through the state’s Early On program.
  • Family income is the most reliable indicator of academic success, and Michigan must more aggressively address poverty and economic opportunity, including the restoration of the Earned Income Tax Credit (included in Proposal 1), and income assistance policies that provide families with some stability as they get additional education and training and enter the workforce. National tests show that four of every five Michigan fourth-graders from families with incomes below or marginally above the poverty level ($24,000 for a family of four in 2013) did not demonstrate proficiency in reading in 2013 compared with roughly one of every two higher-income students. Students from low-income families are more likely to face barriers such as illness, transportation problems, no access to high-quality child care, unhealthy housing, mobility, homelessness and unsafe neighborhoods.

 

Investments Needed in a Critical but Sometimes Overlooked Component of Healthcare – Oral Health

 

The governor’s budget for the year starting Oct. 1, 2015 includes significant investments for both children and adults in a critical, but sometimes considered optional, component of healthcare – oral health.

The Problem

Oral health impacts every aspect of an individual’s life, from the young to the elderly, from how one feels, to how one looks, to how one is able to eat or not, to how one is able to concentrate at school or at work. Oral health disease is very costly when it forces individuals to hospital emergency rooms where the only treatment is for the pain and not the problem. Even more tragic are hospital admissions to intensive care units when untreated dental infections travel to other parts of the body, such as the heart. Dental disease has been linked to chronic diseases such diabetes, stroke and heart disease. In addition, research is linking poor maternal oral health to preterm and low-birthweight babies.

Tooth decay remains the No. 1 chronic disease in children, but it is preventable with access to good dental care. Like potholes, cavities just grow larger, more expensive to repair and more painful. All children need to be able to learn and progress in school, but toothaches and other dental problems cause them to lose concentration or miss school.

It is critical that all Medicaid-eligible children in Michigan have access to the Healthy Kids Dental program and to good oral health opportunities.

A Partial Solution for Children and Adults

The governor recommends continuing expansion of the Healthy Kids Dental program but not to all Medicaid-eligible children. His recommendation is to expand the program into the three remaining counties without the program (Kent, Oakland and Wayne) but only to children under age 9. While continued expansion is very good, it does leave more than 170,000 low-income children without coverage, many of whom are children of color. The recommendation calls for investing $22 million, including $7.5 million in state funds. These children and their families have waited a long time for this coverage – essential for children to be healthy and able to learn. Tooth decay has been shown to impede academic progress as well as social progress.

Another key investment in the governor’s budget is $12 million, including $8 million in state funds, to expand access for adult dental services for Medicaid enrollees by implementing a statewide dental managed care contract and eliminating the current ineffective fee-for-service system. This proposal, if adopted, will be implemented in the last quarter (July – September) of budget year 2016. While Medicaid currently covers dental services for adults, few dentists participate due to the extremely low reimbursement rates. Poor access can result in escalated health conditions for adult Medicaid enrollees that drive individuals to seek care in hospital emergency rooms and sometimes inpatient stays if the dental infection travels to other parts of the body (i.e., the heart). In addition, treatment in the emergency room does not treat the underlying dental condition. Rather, individuals are simply given pain medication, perhaps antibiotics, are told to follow-up with a dentist, and are sent home.

Legislative Action to Date on the Governor’s Proposal

The House subcommittee concurred with the governor’s recommendation to expand Healthy Kids Dental to children 0-8 in Kent, Oakland and Wayne Counties. The subcommittee did not concur with the recommendation to expand access to adult dental services indicating further discussion is needed.

The Senate subcommittee concurred with expanding Healthy Kids Dental to the three remaining counties, but delayed implementation until July 1, 2016 in order to cover all eligible children in those counties, not just children under age 9. The subcommittee concurred with the governor’s recommended managed care contract for Medicaid adult dental services but recommended implementation be delayed from the governor’s recommended July 1, 2016 until September 1, 2016.

Comprehensive Solution for Children and Adults

To fully address the oral health needs of Medicaid enrollees, both children and adults, expanded access to preventive and treatment services is needed. Full expansion of Healthy Kids Dental to all Medicaid-eligible children in all counties is essential. Expanded access for adult Medicaid enrollees also is imperative to allow routine, preventive services as well as treatment to be provided at the right time, by the right provider and in the right setting. Most dental conditions can and should be treated in dental offices, not in hospital emergency rooms.

 

Annual Report 2014

2014 Highlights: Progress despite challenges

Despite continuing economic challenges in Michigan in 2014, notable progress was made on policies to improve the lives of the state’s low- and modest-income families.

The Michigan League for Public Policy played a key role in a positioning the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit for an increase, which will help more than 1 million children in Michigan and boost incomes of 800,000 families earning the least.

At the end of 2014, lawmakers and the administration reached a compromise on a road funding plan. If voters approve a sales tax increase with revenue earmarked for road repairs, the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit will rise to 20% of the federal credit. The tax credit was included to offset the sales tax increase impact on those working families earning the least.

The League has been the chief advocate for the tax credit and worked with candidates in the fall election to highlight the impact in each legislative district resulting from the 2011 decision to cut the credit to 6% of the federal credit. The League supported the credit with strategic information to policymakers, policy briefs, interactive graphics as well as the legislative district fact sheets.

Among other accomplishments, the League:

  • Supported the push for a higher minimum wage with high-quality analysis and infographics. Lawmakers increased the wage to $8.15 in 2014, rising to $9.25 by 2018.
  • Successfully held an income tax rollback at bay.
  • Embedded race equity broadly in the League’s work.
  • Worked with Priorities Michigan to promote better budget priorities in the state.
  • Highlighted the lack of child care inspectors in Michigan and the inadequate child care subsidies. The governor’s 2016 budget reflects $6 million for more inspectors.
  • Created a popular online calculator, Making Ends Meet in Michigan, which shows how much you need to earn to cover basic needs.
  • Inspired introduction of legislation to fix the gap in financial aid grants for adults wishing to attend public colleges and universities. The executive budget for 2016 restores $6 million in such grants.
  • Convened a work group on mass incarceration and held a well-attended forum on solutions to reducing prison sentences.
  • Highlighted gains in the state budget with the widely used Budget Briefs project, including funding for 10,000 additional children in preschool.
  • Illuminated shortfalls in education funding, and drew widespread attention to a plan, later scuttled, that would have diverted revenue from classrooms to pay for roads.
  • Weighed in on mandatory retention for third-graders not proficient in reading. Through testimony, meetings with lawmakers and a policy brief, the League promoted strategic interventions. The governor’s budget includes $49 million for such efforts.
  • Advocated for clean energy to improve health of residents of lower-income neighborhoods.

Message from the President & CEO, Gilda Z. Jacobs

Thanks to you — donors, funders, members and friends – the League’s advocacy, outreach and communications have grown stronger and more strategically targeted than ever. The League continues to play a very effective role in improving public policy in Michigan, and our reputation for accurate, accessible and timely Information remains very strong.

Our commitment to improving the lives of economically vulnerable people in our state is unwavering.

In 2014, we saw years of advocacy for the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit pay off with the inclusion of the credit as part of a package on the road funding that will go before voters in May 2015. This has been a hard-fought victory.

In 2014, our outreach connected with faith leaders, nonprofits and workers in every corner of the state and our advocacy work around the state budget has been strengthened with our popular Budget Briefs series that provides budget information as it happens, allowing testimony in time to make a difference.

The year 2014 was also a year of milestones.

The League’s Kids Count in Michigan project helped celebrate the 25th anniversary of KIDS COUNT. The League is proud to part of this national network that works to improve the lives of all children.

And the League was part of the 20 year celebration of the State Priorities Partnership, a national network of network of more than 40 independent, nonprofit research and policy organizations. And the League’s partnerships with Economic Analysis Research Network, Working Poor Families Project and with Families USA means Michigan benefits from broad national expertise on key issues.

In addition to the strength gained from our national leaders, the League has exceptional leadership and expertise on the state level.

Our board of directors includes two former budget directors, four former lawmakers, a former state Treasurer, and nonprofit leaders from across the state. Robert Swanson, our current board president, retired in 2007 as director of the Department of Labor and Economic Growth and he serves as a member of the Civil Service Commission.

Our year-end fundraising exceeded the target of $20,000 for a Rapid Response Fund. In all, we raised $80,000! Many of our grants do not allow lobbying so it’s critical to our advocacy work that we raise these dollars from individual donors. Thanks to the many of you who contributed.

As you look over this report, I hope you’ll spend some time reviewing our policy agenda, Building a Stronger Michigan, which was completed at the end of 2014. We plan to use this document going forward to target our efforts to make Michigan a place of economic opportunity for all.

Thanks to you, all of this is possible.

Board of Directors

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

Robert W. Swanson, BOARD CHAIR
Retired Director, Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth

H. Lynn Jondahl, IMMEDIATE PAST BOARD CHAIR
Former State Legislator

Charles L. Ballard, Ph.D., VICE-CHAIR
Department of Economics, Michigan State University

Don Gilmer, TREASURER
Former State Budget Director

Delois Whitaker Caldwell, MEMBER-AT-LARGE
Retired President & CEO
Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit

Bob Emerson, MEMBER-AT-LARGE
Former State Budget Director

_____________________________________

Ann Andrews, Vice President
Disability Claims Specialists
L & S Associates, Inc.

Richard Ball, O.D., Ph.D.
Former State Legislator

Georgi-Ann Bargamian, Educational Director
International Union – UAW

Sheilah P. Clay, President & CEO
Neighborhood Service Organization

Robert Cohen, Executive Director
Jewish Community Relations Council & Michigan Jewish Conference

Lee Gaddies, Legislative Chair
12th Precinct Neighborhood Coalition

Sonia Harb, Director
Technical Assistance Center
University of Michigan—School of Social Work

David Hecker, President
AFT Michigan

B. Daniel Inquilla, Attorney
Farmworker Legal Services of Michigan

Robert Kleine
Former State Treasurer

Eric T. Mayes, Ph.D., Ed.M.
Assistant Professor
Johns Hopkins University

Jennifer R. Poteat
Harry A. & Margaret D. Towsley Foundation

Charles Pryde, Regional Director
Government Affairs
Ford Motor Company

Sarida Scott, Executive Director
Community Development Advocates of Detroit

Kevin L. Seitz, Retired, Executive Vice President
Health Care Value Enhancement
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Mary Alice Williams, Former President & CEO
Nokomis Foundation

League Staff

Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO

Jackie Benson, Receptionist/Membership Associate
Paul Diefenbach, Data Analyst
Karen Holcomb-Merrill, Vice President
Jan Hudson, Senior Policy Analyst
Phyllis Killips, Assistant to the President
Tillie Kucharek, Graphic Designer
Yannet Lathrop, Policy Analyst
Mary Logan, Administrative Support Staff
Shannon Nobles, Outreach Specialist
Judy Putnam, Communications Director
Peter Ruark, Senior Policy Analyst
Danielle Smith, Prosperity Coalition Coordinator
Pat Sorenson, Senior Policy Analyst
Alicia Guevara Warren, Tax Policy Analyst
Renell Weathers, Outreach Director
Ben Wells, Insurance Associate
Lawrence Wells, Chief Operating Officer
Jane Zehnder-Merrell, Kids Count Project Director

Contributors list is included in the PDF

 

 

 

Governor’s Proposal Continues Healthy Kids Dental Expansion

 

The Healthy Kids Dental program is a public-private partnership between the Department of Community Health and Delta Dental of Michigan. The program is available to Medicaid-eligible children under age 21 in all but three counties. The program, administered by Delta Dental, uses Delta’s commercial network of dentists and pays higher rates than Medicaid.

Kalamazoo and Macomb counties were added Oct. 1, 2014, bringing the total number of children covered to 611,000 but leaving a large population of lowincome kids behind in Kent, Oakland and Wayne counties – nearly 400,000 kids.

The governor’s recommendation for the budget starting Oct. 1, 2015 includes $7.5 million in state funds, for a total of $22 million with federal funds, to expand Healthy Kids Dental coverage to children under age 9 in Kent, Oakland and Wayne counties. This proposal would add another 210,000 children to the program for a total of 821,000, but leaves behind more than 170,000 children age 9 and older.

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