From the First Tuesday newsletter
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Founded in 1912, the Michigan League for Public Policy has seen a lot in our 105 years. We’ve faced many challenges in our state, our country and our world, but we’ve had major triumphs, too.
Through all of the tumult, change and progress over the last century, the League has been a constant in fighting for the people of Michigan. But we don’t just fight—we win.
I hope you still believe that working for policy change can make a difference … because it has. In looking back on the past year, we’ve got a lot of good news to celebrate. We did this all despite Michigan’s tough political climate, and it’s all thanks to you.
Just look at what League supporters helped us accomplish to improve the lives of Michigan children, workers, families and seniors in 2016.
We had to be nimble and react quickly to Michigan’s cities in crises as Flint’s drinking water was contaminated by toxic lead and Detroit Public Schools faced disastrous fiscal and physical conditions. The League’s research and analyses connected the dots between Michigan’s public policy failures and the deteriorating infrastructure in these cities and offered immediate and long-term recommendations to address these problems and help these kids.
Our advocacy efforts helped secure passage of legislation to tackle the issues with Detroit Public Schools and $114 million in budget funding to help children in Flint receive the care and services they need to thrive. This money will go toward replacing lead pipes in high-risk homes, child care services, and nutrition programs and food banks.
Other wins this year required a long view and were the result of months and even years of hard work and persistence by the League and supporters like you.
The League’s advocacy during the budget process finally helped realize the expansion of the state’s Healthy Kids Dental program, ensuring 131,000 children from families with low incomes in Kent, Oakland and Wayne counties will get the dental care they need to have stronger, healthier teeth. The budget also included $15.8 million to ensure more children have high-quality child care, an issue the League will continue to focus on.
Finally, in the waning days of the 2016 lame duck session, we helped secure some major victories for Michigan’s children, workers and seniors. Tabled during the budget passage in June, the Legislature fixed an issue we have been pushing for years that will provide much-needed food assistance to feed 338,000 families.
The Legislature also passed a fix to the state’s automated unemployment system that had been incorrectly rejecting benefits for thousands of workers and some major reforms to school expulsion and suspension policies. The League drew attention to the fact that suspensions and expulsions harm a student’s education, put a strain on working parents, and inordinately affect students of color.
This past year, you enabled us to achieve major policy improvements even in a difficult political climate. As long as we have you by our side, that’s not going to change, regardless of who’s in the White House or the Michigan Capitol. The League is data-driven, nonpartisan and solution-oriented. We are well-respected in the Capitol and your communities alike. And we get things done.
Big changes and big fights are certainly coming, and we are getting ready for them. But as we start off the new year, I wanted to thank you for all that you helped us accomplish in 2016 and reassure you that when we work together, we can handle anything that comes our way.
— Gilda Z. Jacobs