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.

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.

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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…)

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…)

SNAP: Fighting the long-term effects of hunger

I admit I do not understand what it feels like to be truly hungry. Sure, I’ve forgotten my breakfast or lunch from time to time, but I’ve always been able to count on the fact that there would be food in my cupboards. I cannot imagine the short- and long-term effects of hunger.

Yet, for many Michiganians, and many children, hunger is still a real problem. According to a recent federal report, between 2013 and 2015, almost 15% of Michigan households struggled to put food on their tables. Nationally, this rate is higher among households with children. (more…)

We want to hear from you

From the First Tuesday newsletter
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As we head into July, summer is in full swing. With it, we are afforded a brief respite from the legislative grind and a prime opportunity to refine our work. And that starts with you.

We want to improve how we communicate, interact and engage with you. We have put together a very short survey on our efforts to see what’s working, what isn’t, and what we can do differently. We truly appreciate your support of our work, and we hope that you will take a few minutes to fill out this brief survey to help us better serve you. Your input means the world to us, so please give us five minutes of your time to fill this out. (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…)

State budget turns back on vital federal dollars

From the First Tuesday newsletter
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Here at the League, the state budget is always one of our top priorities. State funding for important programs has one of the biggest impacts on Michiganians in need. We talk a lot about how the budget is a statement of our values as a state. But much like your family budget and mine, dealing with money issues is also about “value” in the traditional sense—how can we best stretch our dollars and get the most bang for our buck. This includes leveraging federal funds as much as possible.

This is more important now than ever. In January, it looked like state revenues were in a good position. But things changed in the next five months, and May revenue estimates were significantly down, meaning the budget was going to have to be adjusted—or cut—accordingly. (more…)

I’m done riding the revenue roller coaster

I hate roller coasters—they make my head hurt and I can never get my feet back under me after riding one. But twice a year, I ride one as I wait to see whether state revenues will come in above projections, below targets or on track. Yesterday’s revenue estimating conference made it clear that we will have some tough budget decisions to make for next year, but the truth is that it shouldn’t be like this.

The good news is that revenues, year after year, are projected to grow. However, Michigan’s growth isn’t as robust as we originally predicted only five months ago. This means that there will be less to work with when deciding funding priorities in next year’s budget, potentially leaving many Michigan residents, communities and schools further behind. Thankfully, Michigan is able to get federal funds for various programs, and lawmakers should review the budget and fund those areas, such as child care and the Heat and Eat program, for maximum impact. (more…)