For Immediate Release
September 24, 2019
Legislature’s budget bills whiff on biggest needs of Michigan kids, residents
LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statements on the Michigan Legislature’s 2020 State Budget bills passed today, addressing action and failure on its key priorities—including the need for more revenue. Additional budget analyses on these and other issues can be found at mlpp.org/budget. The statements can all be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.
Department of Health and Human Services Budget
“If a single person loses life-saving healthcare coverage inadvertently because of these work requirements, it’s one too many. But apparently the Legislature is ok with tens of thousands of people, or perhaps more, losing coverage because of the Healthy Michigan Plan work requirements they pushed and the education and outreach funding they quashed. This is the latest attempt to undercut the highly successful Healthy Michigan Plan and the life-saving healthcare it provides for more than half a million residents with lower incomes. After multiple failed tries, Medicaid work requirements were pushed by President Trump as another way to undercut the Affordable Care Act, and Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature and then-governor unfortunately followed suit. And now, as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and DHHS do their best implement this partisan policy, Republican lawmakers ignored their request for funding to lessen its impact, poising Michigan to replicate the outrageous health coverage losses the other foolhardy states to follow Trump’s lead have experienced.”
School Aid Budget
“There is a difference between ‘adequate’ and ‘appropriate,’ and it’s clear that when it comes to K-12 funding, the Legislature is content to be simply ‘adequate.’ And unfortunately, while lawmakers’ boasts on record funding are no stranger to inflation, actual School Aid dollars are the same that they were in 1995. While we acknowledge that the Legislature continues to ‘invest’ in schools, we’re disappointed in their failure to address Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed weighted funding formula that would improve outcomes for kids in high-poverty schools. According to a report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation yesterday, Michigan is the worst state in the nation when it comes to African American kids living in high-poverty, low-opportunity neighborhoods. The governor’s funding model—which is in line with recommendations from the bipartisan School Finance Research Collaborative—would have helped those kids in particular, giving their schools the appropriate resources. But the Legislature has ignored the fact that teaching kids in high-poverty districts comes with an added cost, instead sticking with traditional funding that contributes to racial and economic inequities.”
Department of Corrections Budget
“While it is heartening to see the Legislature paying greater attention to the needs of incarcerated individuals and their families, both in the Department of Corrections budget and in stand-alone policies like Raise the Age and bail and sentencing reform, a new political villain has unfortunately replaced them. State Republicans are following their president’s playbook and making immigrants the scapegoat for a variety of Michigan’s economic and policy woes. A mere two days after the state-supported, pro-immigrant ‘Welcoming Week,’ the Legislature has passed another policy telling immigrants they are NOT welcome here. The Department of Corrections budget passed today includes boilerplate language that would pull state reimbursements to jails in counties with sanctuary policies or rules preventing law enforcement or employees from speaking to federal agents about the immigration status of an individual. In one fell swoop, they’re eating away at the lives of our residents, the rights of local government and the very fabric of our state.”
Department of Education Budget—Child Care Funding
“We’re pleased that the Legislature has included $15 million to raise provider rates, which will go a long way toward making child care accessible. But unfortunately not much was included to help parents. Michigan has one of the most restrictive eligibility requirements for child care assistance in the nation, at just 130 percent of the poverty level. The League had supported Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s request to increase the eligibility rate to 140 percent, but the Legislature disregarded this increase that would have helped thousands of families gain access to child care. In Michigan, the cost of child care for families rivals that of a mortgage payment or rent, and many families simply can’t make ends meet in the current system. A higher eligibility rate would help more parents enter the workplace and help more kids get high-quality care that will prepare them for school.”
Revenue Needs and Overall State Budget Process
“This budget, like every other state budget we’ve worked on since 1912, has some good and some bad. Compared to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget, we know the good could have been a lot better. But without shared power and the threat of her veto pen, we know the bad could have been a lot worse. The biggest disappointment in the 2020 budget passed today is that it yet again ignores the need for real revenue, courageous leadership and bold action. It continues to spin paltry increases as record highs. It continues to ignore our state’s crumbling infrastructure and it continues to put Band-Aids on broken bones and pennies in potholes. And it continues to play shell games with limited funds and pit our schools, our higher education institutions, our roads, our public safety officers and others against each other. It’s unfortunate that the budget process dragged on so long to ultimately earmark the status quo, and we hope that the revenue conversation continues.”
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.