House budget bills have bright spots, but still raise concerns

For Immediate Release
June 20, 2017

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Positives include funding for “heat and eat” fix, Healthy Michigan Plan and increased per-pupil funding

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the budget bills passed out of the House of Representatives today. It can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“A major goal of the League this year has been to support ‘heat and eat’ to secure additional food assistance for hundreds of thousands of Michigan families, seniors and people with disabilities. Seeing this program funded is reassuring. The budget contains support for other valuable food programs, including ‘double-up food bucks’ in Flint, which helps residents who receive food assistance make their dollars go further when purchasing fruits and vegetables that help combat the effects of lead exposure.

The decision to continue funding the Healthy Michigan Plan is a win for all Michiganians—especially the 660,000 residents who rely on the plan for healthcare.

We are also pleased that the Wayne Residential Alternative to Prison program was supported. It provides low-risk probation violators an opportunity to avoid going to prison and instead enter a residential program in which they receive occupational training and cognitive behavioral programming. The budget not only continues this program, but adds $1.5 million to replicate it in 13 counties on the west side of the state.

One exciting update from today’s budget is the Legislature’s decision to fund the Pathways to Potential program, which places ‘success coaches’ in schools to identify barriers faced by students and their families. This important program—left out of an earlier budget—will help students access important services, and the League commends the governor for recommending its expansion. We are also pleased to see the increase in per-pupil funding and expansion of at-risk funds, but believe more should be done in order to help our students.

Though some great wins were announced today, we still have major concerns. This budget was balanced due to a surplus in the Unemployment Insurance Penalties and Interest fund. This surplus, however, is no boon to our state. On the contrary, it is due to a flawed system that wrongly accused nearly 50,000 Michiganians of fraud. This money does not belong to the state, it belongs to the honest citizens who were incorrectly assessed exorbitant fines and penalties. We must rectify this situation and make whole the people who were harmed by the State’s mistake.

Though we are cheered by elements of the budget, the whole picture must be examined. Millions of Michigan residents struggle to get by each day, and our hope is that the final budget will do better to serve them all.”

For additional League statements on the budget process, view our budget briefs.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.