Nokomis Legacy goal exceeded

Contact: Judy Putnam at (517) 487-5436

League exceeds fundraising goal to grow Nokomis gift

LANSING, Mich. — A challenge to raise $250,000 for the Nokomis Foundation Legacy Endowment has been met and exceeded, Robert Swanson, the chair of the board of the Michigan League for Public Policy, announced today.

In all, a $2.4 million endowment has been created, as the result of a gift from the Grand Rapids-based Nokomis Foundation. Nokomis donated $1 million in 2012 to the League with a pledge of another $1 million if the League raised $250,000 in donations and pledges from supporters and new donors.

“I’m thrilled to report that longtime supporters as well as new donors stepped up to help us meet that challenge, and even go beyond,” Swanson said. “It’s great to know that so many care about sustaining the work of the League to improve the lives of Michigan’s economically vulnerable citizens.” (more…)

Not a pie-in-the-sky idea

From the League’s First Tuesday newsletter
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  • Life is a bowl of cherries.
  • It’s the pits.
  • That’s a pie-in-the sky idea.

My staff and I have been making a lot of cherry puns over the last week. But it’s all for a serious reason.

We used a cherry pie to show what 20% of Michigan families earning the least would get if we roll back the Michigan personal income tax from 4.25% to 3.9%. Yep, that’s just $12 – enough to buy a cherry pie from the bakery.

For those right in the middle, it would be $88 (that’s about $1.70 a week). What will that get you? Perhaps a used dough mixer.

But the top 1% — who would get a full 17% of the benefits from a rollback — would receive, on average, $2,618. That will buy you a trip for two to Paris, where you can see all the sights and enjoy French pastry at a café.

Along with a bite-sized analysis, the League sent a slice of cherry pie to each lawmaker to serve up an important message: An income tax rollback is a sweet deal for those at the very top but the pits for the rest as it would take away the best opportunity in a decade to reinvest in education, safe communities, roads and the other engines of our economy that were neglected as Michigan struggled with a long economic downturn.

The League is fortunate to have access to an analysis using a sophisticated tax model created by the Washington, D.C.-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

That allows us to show the potential impact in a very tangible way. And what it clearly reveals is that the proposed income tax rollback plans are bad for Michigan.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to instead pump up the Homestead Property Tax Credit is a far better alternative and will especially help seniors and those with disabilities. Even better, would be to include an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working families or to forgo the tax reductions and instead use the resources to invest in education that has been so severely cut since the Great Recession began.

In fact, a new poll of 600 Michigan residents shows that most agree. They prefer paying for education or road repair over an income tax cut.

Another study by the Economic Policy Institute examines who has benefited from the post-recession recovery. From 2007 to 2009, more than 90% of the economic growth has gone to the top 1% in Michigan, further deepening income inequality.

Those at the top have benefited the most from the economic recovery, and they will benefit the most from the tax rollback.

Please tell your lawmakers to vote NO on rolling back the income tax.

It’s a far sweeter deal to invest in education and other services that will rev up our economy or directly target tax reductions to those who continue to struggle with low wages.

Those would truly be plans deserving of a cherry on the top.

– Gilda Z. Jacobs
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Hunger grows at time of thanks

From the League’s First Tuesday newsletter
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It’s November and time to look forward to Thanksgiving — a treasured American holiday, symbolized by the bounty of the pilgrim harvest. For my family, that means turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings.

For too many in Michigan, however, Thanksgiving will be a reminder of the ongoing struggle to put enough food on the table.

Nearly one in every seven Michigan households reported difficulty affording food at some point last year. And a plan before Congress, if adopted, will worsen hunger and jeopardize Michigan’s fragile economic recovery as well. (more…)

Fast track but off course

From the First Tuesday newsletter
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Before leaving town for the annual Mackinac Policy Conference and fudge fest last week, state lawmakers finished their work on the FY 2014 state budget, making decisions on the allocation of approximately $48 billion in state and federal revenues at nearly breakneck speed.

So how did low- and moderate-income families and children, the unemployed, seniors and other vulnerable residents of Michigan fare in this fast-track budget? On the positive side, the Michigan Legislature adopted several of the governor’s initiatives that serve to improve children’s health and school readiness. (more…)

Rising to the challenge

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After a long cold winter, it’s good to feel optimistic again. Spring is here in Michigan, and there are signs that our economy is back on track and chugging along, even if very slowly.

As I work on meeting a critical fundraising challenge issued by the Nokomis Foundation, however, I find myself reminding those I meet with that the economy still does not work for all. (more…)

Let’s resolve to make Michigan healthier

From the January newsletter
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Happy New Year!

As you make your New Year’s resolutions – healthy eating and exercising are my all-time favorites – let’s resolve to make Michigan a healthier place too.

The start of the New Year means that budget setting is right around the corner. First with the governor’s executive budget, then with the Legislature’s public hearings and votes, the budget process is our chance to set our priorities as a state. (more…)

Ending the year on a sweet note or two

From the League’s First Tuesday newsletter
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At our policy forum and annual meeting Monday, we had much to celebrate.

Proposal 5, which would have required all tax increases and loophole closings be approved by a two-thirds marjority, was soundly defeated in Michigan by a supermajority of voters. Forum attendees gave a hearty round of applause for that victory.

And the keynote speaker, noted economist Jared Bernstein, told the 140 attendees that an important shift happened with the Nov. 6 election. At the national level, Republican leaders have signaled they realize that revenues have to be part of the solution — not just spending cuts that hurt families and children and our economy. Bernstein, a senior policy fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, noted that the housing market is finally on the rebound after many sluggish years and state budgets are improving, though not out of the woods. (more…)

After a century, it’s time for a celebration

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On Wednesday, we will celebrate 100 years of research and advocacy at the Michigan League for Human Services, soon to be the Michigan League for Public Policy.

How time flies!

The League traces its roots to 1912. It began, appropriately enough, during the Progressive Era as the Michigan Conference on Charities of Corrections. A group of concerned citizens (including social workers, judges and attorneys among them) planned an annual meeting about the major public welfare issues of the day. (more…)

Back-to-school success for kids — and adults

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Labor Day is over, and it’s back-to-school time in Michigan. But our kids are not the only ones in our state who need to hit the books.

It’s time for policymakers to study up and implement changes to help adults in families across Michigan.

The League mapped out strategies in a recent report to help adult learners attain the credentials they need to become successful  workers. It’s not pie-in-the-sky stuff. We need these adult learners to be part of the talent pool for a successful economy that works for all by offering opportunity and lessening the need for government assistance. (more…)

A bad, bad, super-bad proposal

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A bad, bad — you might say super-bad — proposal is working its way toward the November ballot.

It is a scheme funded by billionaire Matty Moroun (the owner of the Ambassador Bridge who is fighting Gov. Snyder on a new bridge) — with support from Washington anti-government zealot Grover Norquist — to buy an amendment to Michigan’s Constitution that would work in their favor at the expense of Michigan’s middle class and local taxpayers.

The so-called supermajority proposal is actually a type of “superminority” proposal, allowing a small number of lawmakers (just 13 senators!) to control state revenue and have a devastating impact on Michigan’s democracy and economy.

Here’s why this supermajority requirement, now being considered for the November ballot, is a super-bad idea:

  • It’s bad for the economy. The seven states with similar tax limitations fared worse in the most recent recession than states without them.
  • It would make it virtually impossible to end tax breaks that have harmed our credit rating and haven’t helped our economy, including tax breaks for large, profitable corporations.
  • It’s impossible to anticipate the future. What if there is a Hurricane Katrina-type of calamity? The supermajority requirement would tie the hands of lawmakers when they need to respond quickly. (more…)

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