For Immediate Release
Feb. 6, 2020
LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 2021 budget proposal and some specific policy highlights. It can be attributed to President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.
New Revenue Needed:
“What we have here is a failure to rejuvenate. As the governor’s proposal outlined today, the state’s budget revenues are facing significant constraints, due in part to the decisions of her predecessor. Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2011 business tax cuts decimated state revenue then and now, and led to nearly a decade of disinvestment and degrading infrastructure, roads and water systems. All roads lead back to revenue, and the greatest challenge and most outdated infrastructure in our state is actually our tax system. We don’t need more money this year, we need more period, whether it’s reining in business tax cuts, simply keeping up with inflation, or taking bold action to bring in new funds. We don’t need to invest in our roads OR our schools OR public safety OR health and human services, we need to invest in ALL of them. Per the budget director’s comments today, the Whitmer administration remains open to working with the Legislature on a revenue solution to invest in Michigan’s roads and residents’ other priorities. We echo that, as bringing new money and more of it into the state continues to be the ultimate policy change needed in the state to address everything else.”
“Child care is primed to be the next big area of bipartisan agreement in the Capitol, as businesses and a variety of elected officials past and present have joined the League’s call for action on making it more affordable and accessible. Child care costs are rivaling college costs and mortgages and pricing out a majority of working families. At the same time, high-quality care is an essential part of a winning formula for child well-being, development and learning. Tackling this issue is a two-generation strategy that helps parents work and support their families today while solidifying the foundation for Michigan’s future. The governor’s efforts to make child care more affordable will help nearly 6,000 more families in every part of the state, and we hope the Legislature will heed the chorus of support and join the governor in making this a priority.”
Maternal and Infant Health:
“Regardless of your political beliefs, we should all be able to agree that healthy birth outcomes for moms and babies shouldn’t have to do with the color of your skin or the amount of your paycheck. The state’s infant mortality rate is 38th in the nation, and some Michigan communities have infant mortality rates that rival some of the worst in the world. Even worse, nearly half of maternal deaths in Michigan are preventable. There’s no reason that in 2020 our babies and mothers should still be at such high risk. We applaud the governor’s challenge to address this issue, and hope the Legislature will follow suit with the needed funding. Before child care, before primary or secondary school, a child’s health and development is influenced first and foremost by the health of their mother and the prenatal and postnatal care she and her baby receive. The state’s policy priorities and budget investment should reflect that.”
Weighted School Funding Formula:
“As a member of the School Finance Research Collaborative and an organization focused on racial equity, we applaud the governor’s continued efforts to establish a weighted school funding formula that gives more money to students who face higher economic and academic challenges. More funds for students and schools with the highest needs is the best way to promote equity—which is far different from equality—and also will help address some of the racial disparities and concerns with third-grade reading proficiency and potential grade retention.”
Adult Postsecondary Education:
“While our unemployment rate has gone down dramatically, our poverty rate has not seen much of a drop, meaning more people are working, but for lower wages. It’s a Catch-22. Michigan’s older workers need to go back to school to better prepare for the new job market and earn more money, but the cost continues to be a huge barrier. We hope legislators from all over the state recognize this growing problem and work with Gov. Whitmer to address it. The governor’s bold goal is 60 percent of residents getting some type of postsecondary credential by 2030, and Michigan Reconnect, which provides up to two years of training or education for students over age 25, is a great way to get us there.”
“Gov. Whitmer’s budget today shows that she and her advisors understand that there are many policy improvements that can translate to improvements in maternal and infant health, including longer family leave policies. Giving state employees 12 weeks of paid family leave will help the state’s nearly 50,000 workers and their children, and leads by example in an effort to encourage lawmakers and private-sector businesses to follow suit and expand paid family leave for all workers in Michigan.”
RELEVANT LOCAL DATA:
The Michigan League for Public Policy is a data-driven organization, and every year we put together a variety of geographic fact sheets compiling local data to help residents and elected officials from all over the state better understand how their neighbors, their communities, their constituents and their districts are doing.
We just released our 2020 county census data fact sheets. These include data on the number of people and percentage without health insurance; economic information like the median household income, the median wage for men and women and the gender wage gap, and the poverty rate; and the level of educational attainment by residents over 25 for each county.
As part of our annual Kids Count in Michigan Data Book, the League also puts together Kids Count county profiles for all 83 counties. These include county data on the number of kids on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, mothers receiving prenatal care, babies born with low birthweights, infant mortality, the number of 3- and 4-year-olds not in preschool, and third-grade reading proficiency.
ADDITIONAL BUDGET AND POLICY INFO:
The state budget is a big area of focus—and a big area of progress—for the Michigan League for Public Policy, and the League has released our 2021 budget priorities, many of which align with Gov. Whitmer’s proposals unveiled today.
Many of the issues discussed today are also part of the League’s Owner’s Manual for Michigan proactive policy agenda. Too many people in our state are working but not making enough to survive, let alone thrive, and the real-world struggles and kitchen-table budgeting of Michiganders are too often overlooked in state policy decisions. The Owner’s Manual is designed to change that, and was informed by residents from across the state and shared with legislators from every district. Several Owner’s Manual priorities were passed in 2019, and if the governor’s budget proposal is any indication, many more are poised to be addressed in 2020.
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.