Support for “Heat and Eat” in House DHHS budget shows promise, but other unnecessary cuts disconcerting

For Immediate Release
April 18, 2017

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517-487-5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the Department of Health and Human Services budget (DHHS) passed by the House Appropriations Subcommittee today. Unlike the Senate DHHS budget passed yesterday, the House budget included funding for the “Heat and Eat” program that will secure vital federal dollars while maintaining food assistance for 338,000 families in Michigan. However, the House DHHS budget includes unnecessary cuts from the governor’s budget—at the expense of children and families with low incomes—to pay for a reduction to the state income tax. The statement may be attributed to League Vice President Karen Holcomb-Merrill.

“Yesterday, we asserted that funding for the ‘Heat and Eat’ program should be a bipartisan issue, and today lawmakers in the House proved that it still is. We appreciate the efforts of House Republicans to leverage millions of federal dollars and extend food assistance to 338,000 kids, families, seniors and persons with disabilities, and hope their commitment can influence the Senate as budget negotiations continue.

“But aside from funding for ‘Heat and Eat’ and a modest increase in the clothing allowance, the House DHHS budget primarily does more harm than good. It includes significant reductions from the governor’s recommendations to pay for a state income tax cut that already failed once and a majority of the people of Michigan don’t want. Michigan residents understand the importance of quality state services, reliable public safety, safe roads and quality schools.  House leaders are jeopardizing these services in their current budget, but they will threaten them in perpetuity if they revisit an income tax cut.”

The League’s budget briefs have emphasized the impact cuts to state services have on our kids, our families and our quality of life—particularly in the DHHS budget. The League has worked closely on the “Heat and Eat” issue since it arose in 2014, and has been supportive of recent efforts to fix it.

The League has been vocal in opposition to any cut to the state income tax, and recent polling shows that a majority of Michiganians oppose a tax cut that will harm state services.

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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.