What to watch for in 2019 state budget

The state budget is a big focus of the League’s work each year, and often our most viable opportunity for victories for the people and kids of Michigan. And while we were disappointed that lawmakers passed a personal exemption increase, it should not affect this year’s budget as much as earlier proposals (the bigger cuts will be left to future legislators instead).

budgetandmagnifier175-by-116Here are the main things good and bad in—or absent from—Governor Rick Snyder’s 2019 budget that the League is keeping an eye on as the legislative process gets underway. You can learn more about these issues in our “First Look” at the governor’s budget and we will continue to provide updates on our budget page.

thumbs up The Good
  • Continues funding for the “heat and eat” policy that provides increased food assistance to families with low incomes, people with disabilities and seniors.
  • Supports the Healthy Michigan Plan that has provided health insurance for over 675,000 Michigan residents.
  • Provides $5 million for Michigan’s Early On program that identifies and serves infants and toddlers with developmental delays—the first investment of state funds in Michigan’s grossly underfunded early intervention program.
  • Provides a small increase in monthly Family Independence Program income support provided to children in deep poverty after decades of flat funding that pushed families to less than 30% of the federal poverty line.
  • Provides increases of between $120 and $240 per-pupil for the state’s public schools—with additional funding for students in high school or career and technical education.
  • Expands funding for partnerships with school districts that are needing academic supports from $6 million to $8 million.
thumbs down The Bad
  • Continues funding for Michigan’s successful preschool program for at-risk four-year-olds, but does not expand services to three-year-olds from families with low incomes.
  • Fails to expand funding for At-Risk School Aid and the school-based literacy programs needed to prevent the retention of children in third grade, including a disproportionate number of children of color.
  • Does not increase funding for adult education after deep cuts over the last two decades.
  • Leaves in place Michigan’s child care assistance eligibility cutoff, which is one of the lowest in the nation.
  • Diverts School Aid money intended for K-12 public schools to fund the state’s community colleges—rather than securing adequate General Fund revenues for post-secondary education.
  • Does not restore financial aid for an increasing number of college students who are older and supporting families.
  • Reduces cities, villages and townships (CVT) and county revenue sharing payments, neither of which have received full statutory funding in nearly two decades, so that many communities would either receive decreased CVT and county revenue sharing payments or no payment at all.
question mark The Absent

The League will keep pushing for these and other budget priorities in the coming months, and advocate for racial, ethnic and social justice in all state budget decisions this year and every year. We also encourage you to use our advocacy tips and budget timeline to get involved and speak up for the priorities you believe in.

— Alex Rossman

Governor’s budget continues key investments, urges Legislature to abandon risky revenue cuts

For Immediate Release 
February 7, 2018

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Snyder recommends funding for education, roads, public safety, healthcare and more

LANSING—Following Governor Rick Snyder’s 2019 budget presentation, the Michigan League for Public Policy voiced support for his calls for continued investment in vital programs, and echoed his warning against reckless tax cuts by the Legislature. The League also called for a solution to Michigan’s ongoing revenue problem, and urged action on its own budget priorities as ways the Legislature can have a more significant impact on state residents’ well-being than a tax cut.

“There were a lot of great proposals in the governor’s budget today, including new and first-time funding for Early On, efforts to increase the existing low level of Family Independence Program cash assistance, and continued investments to support Michigan’s kids and families through ‘heat and eat,’ the Healthy Michigan Plan, lead pipe replacement in Flint, roads and public safety,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “These are all longstanding priorities for the League and we appreciate the governor’s recognition that they are key to a better Michigan for everyone. But these very items could be first on the chopping block for the Legislature as they seek to reconcile hundreds of millions of dollars in ineffective and unaffordable tax cuts that give very little money back to most taxpayers.”

While the governor’s budget contained many positives today, there weren’t a lot of dramatic funding increases, because the money is simply not there as a result of previous policy decisions. The major tax cuts passed over the past several years have put Michigan’s budget in an untenable situation where we are unable to make significant investments in all of the things that state residents, businesses and communities depend on. League budget experts continue to sound the alarm on the decline in the purchasing power of the state’s General Fund—which is now estimated to be nearly 6 percent lower than the level in 1968 when adjusted for inflation.

“Michigan has a revenue problem, and has for decades. Lawmakers are still budgeting like it’s 1968,” Jacobs said. “The Legislature is still trying to make Michigan competitive with other states while picking the wrong role models. The Legislature is still underinvesting in nearly everything kids, families, workers and businesses depend on. And disregarding past mistakes, the Legislature is still looking to cut taxes when they should be raising revenue.”

As the budget process gets officially underway today, the League continues to outline its own budget priorities and 15 related policy recommendations. A recent poll from EPIC-MRA showed that the League’s priorities are Michigan voters’ priorities, and resonate much more than “Keeping state and local income taxes low,” an important point with the state budget’s current revenue constraints.

“We don’t work in a vacuum and we know that calling for new investments in our current fiscal climate is bold. But our budget priorities are optimistic and aspirational—here are 15 things we think would better serve the people of Michigan than a tax cut,” Jacobs said.

###

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.

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.

###

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.

###

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.

On same day as Kids Count release, Senate passes DHHS budget that will harm kids and families

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 Senate Appropriations Subcommittee today. The budget included more than $100 million in cuts from the governor’s proposed budget, including eliminating funding for the “Heat and Eat” program that will reduce food assistance for 338,000 families in Michigan and jeopardize federal funding, and removing the proposed funding increase for the clothing allowance for kids in need. The statement may be attributed to League President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“As passed today, this budget will potentially turn away millions of dollars in federal food assistance for children, families, seniors and persons with disabilities. We were gratified to see bipartisan support in the current budget year for reversing the cuts to food assistance for 338,000 families across the state, and we hope that renewed bipartisan support can help save it.

“Overall, the continued cuts to the state’s health and human services are worrisome. Today, we put out our annual Kids Count report on child well-being which found that too many Michigan kids and their parents are still struggling. These parents are working full-time or even multiple jobs, but are still barely getting by and rely on state services to survive. These programs help make sure a child has something to eat, clothing to keep them warm and dry, and access to a doctor when they’re sick. These are real needs that require real services and real funding, and today’s budget bill undermines these needs when it should be fixing them.”

The 2017 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book was released by the Michigan League for Public Policy today outlining the ongoing struggles of many Michigan kids and their families, and the League’s budget briefs have also emphasized the impact cuts to state services have on our kids—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 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.

Statement: Patience and bipartisanship pay off to help feed 338,000 families

For Immediate Release: December 7, 2016

Contact: Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on today’s passage of Senate Bill 800, a supplemental budget bill that will provide food assistance for 338,000 families in Michigan. The year-end budget bill includes an investment of $6.8 million in state funds that will fix an issue with the federal Heat and Eat program, restoring approximately $76 per month in food assistance for 338,000 low-income families. The League has worked closely on the Heat and Eat issue since it arose in 2014. The statement may be attributed to League Vice President Karen Holcomb-Merrill. (more…)

Statement: 2017 budget includes big victories and missed opportunities

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the general omnibus budget bill signed by Governor Rick Snyder today. The League has also put together a full report analyzing the pros and cons of the 2017 budget, The 2017 State Budget Fails to Protect All Children and Families and Perpetuates Economic Disparities. The budget expands Healthy Kids Dental to all eligible kids in Kent, Oakland and Wayne counties, but failed to secure funding to fix the Heat and Eat policy that reduced federal support for many Michigan residents. By investing approximately $3 million in state funds, Michigan would have been able to draw down $140 million in federal dollars through Heat and Eat and restore approximately $76 per month in food assistance for 150,000 low-income households. The statement may be attributed to League President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs. (more…)

Statement: DHHS budget provides long-awaited dental care for kids, but hurts food assistance and federal dollars

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) budget bill, House Bill 5274, that was reported out of conference committee today. The DHHS budget was a primary focus for the League’s advocacy efforts on the budget to better support Michigan’s struggling families, including the expansion of Healthy Kids Dental to all eligible kids in Kent, Oakland and Wayne counties and funding to fix the Heat and Eat policy that reduced federal support for many Michigan residents. By investing approximately $3 million in state funds, Michigan would have been able to draw down $140 million in federal dollars through Heat and Eat and restore approximately $76 per month in food assistance for 150,000 low-income households. The statement may be attributed to League President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs. (more…)

House Appropriations Committee takes major step to strengthen food assistance

We are happy to announce that yesterday, thanks to the work of Representative Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), the Michigan House Appropriations Committee unanimously voted to include $3.2 million in the state budget to restore $138 million in federal food assistance benefits for approximately 150,000 low-income households. These individuals’ benefits were reduced by an average of $76 per month due to changes in the “heat and eat” policy. Many of these households include elderly and disabled individuals.

The Michigan League for Public Policy has been working with legislators and state officials to remedy this issue for several years. It was eighteen months ago that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services declined to pony up some state money in order to continue federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for many Michigan residents. In 2014, Congress increased the amount from $1 to $21 that states would need to spend on heating assistance for certain households in order for them to receive higher food support benefits, saying the states in the “heat and eat” program were exploiting a loophole to increase some households’ food assistance by paying only $1 in heating assistance to those households. (more…)

Statement: League supports House budget effort to address Heat and Eat exclusion, return support to 150,000 households

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the Michigan House Appropriations Committee’s inclusion of $3.2 million in the General Omnibus Budget today to fix the Heat and Eat policy that reduced federal support for approximately 150,000 households, including the elderly and persons with disabilities. The League has been working with lawmakers to find resolution for this problem for several years as it is a very cost-effective way to help low-income individuals while leveraging federal funds. The statement may be attributed to League President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs. (more…)

Next Page »