CREC yourself before you wreck yourself

“CREC yourself before you wreck yourself.” For the last 11 years, I have been trying to slip that joke into my work in the Legislature and now the League. And I had an epiphany yesterday that I might finally be able to do it…as long as I put my own name on it.

I also need to give it a proper explanation, as there’s probably a small sliver of people who know what CREC is AND get 90s Ice Cube lyrics. CREC stands for Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference. Held in January and May of every year, CREC is comprised of the directors of the House and Senate Fiscal Agencies and the state treasurer or budget director.

These fiscal experts analyze and report on economic indicators and state revenue projections. The consensus that is reached during the January conference becomes the revenue basis for the governor’s budget proposal, and the consensus reached during the May conference become the revenue basis for the budget bills passed by the Legislature.

The May Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference was earlier this week, and the news on state revenues is not great. But there is a silver lining, at least to me—it makes “wreck yourself” particularly relevant.

Since January, some Michigan legislators have been really hot on cutting the state income tax. This is a bad idea on its face, but especially in this current context. As League CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs said, “Given the fluctuations in state revenues, it was and continues to be foolhardy to consider tax cuts that would further jeopardize state services.”

if-only-i-had-checked-myselfSee! “CREC yourself before you wreck yourself” is not just a (bad) pun—it’s a valid point. The very intent of the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference is for lawmakers to check themselves and incorporate these estimates into their state spending and budgets. And if they don’t take these forecasts seriously and make poor fiscal decisions, they stand to wreck our state budget, our state services and ultimately our state.

The Legislature needs to let talk of an income tax cut die. And when the House and Senate budget committees begin meeting soon, lawmakers should be sensible and strategic with our state dollars, investing in the programs and services that support our workers and families and get the most bang for our state bucks. For example, increasing state funding for child care and heating assistance can leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.

The next few weeks are critical to the state budget and the priorities you and I value. To help you get involved, the League has put together a timeline and advocacy tips on the state budget. We also continue to produce budget briefs on some of the issues that are most important to us and to you: supporting education, including child care, K-12 schools and colleges and universities, protecting healthcare and the Healthy Michigan Plan, and reducing incarceration and providing adequate support for prisoners.

Whether you can work a rap reference in or not, I hope you will join the League in standing up for these budget priorities and urging lawmakers to make smart investments in our state’s future.

Alex Rossman

Lawmakers should abandon tax cut, uphold strategic investments in light of downward revenue estimates

For Immediate Release
May 17, 2017

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

State budget funding for child care and heating assistance will bring in vital federal dollars

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the revenue projections being announced at today’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference. It can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“Today’s downward revenue estimates should tell Michigan lawmakers two things. One, given the fluctuations in state revenues, it was and continues to be foolhardy to consider tax cuts that would further jeopardize state services. The state’s General Fund has not kept pace with inflation, and Michigan now has the second highest reliance in the nation on federal funds for basic services. Deep cuts sure to come in the federal budget—along with existing demands on state general funds—could put Michigan in a very precarious fiscal position and threaten the state’s ability to support the services and infrastructure needed to keep the economy growing. Lawmakers should be focused on creating a tax system that is fair and able to withstand economic downturns or swings in federal policy. We simply can’t afford to cut taxes in a time of unpredictable revenues.

“Two, in the context of lower than expected revenues, legislators must be very strategic when allocating state revenues to make sure that state spending priorities match the needs of Michigan’s residents. This includes investing funds in the current state budget in child care and heating assistance to leverage hundreds of millions in federal dollars to support working parents and put food on the tables of kids, seniors and people with disabilities through ‘heat and eat.’”

For more information, see the League’s budget briefs on child care and education and “heat and eat” and human 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.

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

For Immediate Release
April 19, 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.

Many bright spots in governor’s budget, but cloud of tax cut still looms

For Immediate Release
February 8, 2017

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

Governor’s budget includes funding for many League priorities that support kids, workers and families

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on Governor Rick Snyder’s 2018 budget presented this morning. This statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“The governor’s budget today is very positive and includes money for many of the programs and services that help struggling workers and families. The League has been a champion for leveraging federal funds to support important state services, and the budget includes $6.8 million to draw down the federal money needed to keep the Heat and Eat program going and $8.4 million in state funds for child care to secure much-needed federal funding. The budget upholds continued funding for the Healthy Michigan Plan, which provides healthcare for more than 600,000 Michiganians with low incomes under the Affordable Care Act, and we appreciate Governor Snyder’s continued commitment to protecting that successful program in Michigan. (more…)