MLPP Blog: Factually Speaking

There is hope in the vote

Added July 11th, 2018 by Gilda Z. Jacobs | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Gilda Z. Jacobs

From the First Tuesday newsletter
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Last year, the American Psychological Association conducted a study and found that two-thirds of Americans listed “the future of our nation” as their primary source of stress. Americans, I get it.

With attacks on children, their families and healthcare, to name a few, June was a particularly trying month for those of us working for economic and social justice. We felt beaten down, listless … sometimes hopeless. But like you, we at the League are resolved get up and fight each day and to seek hope when it seems hardest to do so.

The other day, I arrived in the office to see that someone had started a “Wall of Hope” featuring a few inspirational quotes and pictures. By the end of the day the wall had grown, and it’s now begun to take over the entire hallway.

So despite the pressure all around, we at the League haven’t given up hope. We want to inspire hope.

 

A new "Wall of Hope" has emerged in the League's office space.

A new “Wall of Hope” has emerged in the League’s office space.

 

My favorite post on the wall is a small sign that says simply: “Your Vote Counts.” Wow. When I saw it, I came to an abrupt stop because I realized that voting is one of the greatest providers of hope we have in this country. What is more inspiring than knowing our choice contributes to the future of our nation, state and community?

Voting is a simple enough act. So simple that many of us take it for granted from time to time (42% of people didn’t even exercise their right to vote in 2016.) But this year as we look for reasons to stay hopeful and not stay home, we’re committed to making sure everyone uses their power to vote.

A new “Wall of Hope” has emerged in the League’s office space.

The League is involved in several campaigns to encourage voting and make the process fair and safe for all. We’re part of the broad coalition supporting Promote the Vote in Michigan, which seeks to make Michigan’s voting system fairer. The campaign shares some powerful stories about those who’ve been left out of the process, reminding us that we’ve got work to do when it comes to making sure all voices are heard. We’ve also compiled a list of questions about our major issue areas that you can ask candidates before you make your decisions at the polls. And voting can’t happen if we’re not on top of registration and other important deadlines and dates, so be sure to stay on top of basic facts about voting in Michigan.

This won’t be the last you’ll hear from me on this subject. I refuse to give up hope when you and I hold such power in our hands.

May you enjoy the beautiful Michigan summer … and may your civic duty give you hope.

— Gilda Z. Jacobs

We must take action to protect immigrant families

Added July 9th, 2018 by Victoria Crouse | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Victoria Crouse

Most of us have seen the heartbreaking images of the humanitarian crisis at our border. Perhaps you’ve also heard their voices. The cries of terrified children pleading to be reunited with loved ones. Yes, this is the harrowing reality in our country, and we cannot turn a blind eye to the issue. Not this time.

The crackdown on immigration enforcement is taking a toll on households, entire communities, and especially on the health of children. Children separated from their parents at the border are being exposed to trauma and toxic stress. As the American Academy of Pediatrics describes it, “exposing children to traumatic events and prolonged stress such as separation from a parent disrupts a child’s healthy development and can lead to short- and long-term negative effects on physical, mental and behavioral health.” This is in addition to the trauma children have often times experienced in their native country and on their journey to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Vikki (right) and her older sister (left) hugging at the ages of 4 and 6.

Vikki (right) and her older sister (left) hugging at the ages of 4 and 6.

The crisis of family separation at the border has reached Michigan too. It’s been reported that some of the children and infants who have been separated from their parents have been arriving to Michigan and are now hundreds of miles away from their loved ones. Across the state, hundreds of families have been separated as a result of mass raids at places of work and in neighborhoods. This is inhumane, and it is unacceptable. At the League, we fight tirelessly for the rights of those most vulnerable in our communities including those of the most innocent ones: children and babies who cannot advocate for themselves.

Just a couple of weeks ago, over one hundred immigrant advocates gathered at a press conference in Lansing to speak out against the cruelty of family separation at the border. Organizers from Action of Greater Lansing, discussed the impact of mass deportations on local communities. Samad, a DACA recipient and Kalamazoo community member, shared the heartbreaking story of his family’s hardships living in the shadows as undocumented immigrants. His sister, Lareb, who was also enrolled in the DACA program, passed away in 2016. His mother, Saheeda, received an order of removal this year, and has been living in sanctuary at a Kalamazoo church. Samad’s father was deported to Pakistan years ago. Samad, like so many other immigrants, is trying his best to hold his family together.

Those of us who belong to immigrant families are no strangers to harsh policies of exclusion. In fact, for the majority of my life, my recurring nightmare was that I’d come home to an empty house; my loved ones gone. We’ve been fortunate to stay together, but so many families have not. Today, I am asking that you join the League in protecting immigrant families. Here are some steps you can take today:

  • Call your U.S. congressmen and women and ask them to pass a bill that prioritizes family reunification. Senator Feinstein’s bill the “Keep Families Together Act” does just that. Call (202)-224-3121. Dial “1” for the Senate or “2” for the House. State your zip code and you will be connected.
  • Join the Protecting Immigrant Families – Michigan campaign and help us defeat the next assault on immigrant families that is already underway. We are working closely with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center to defeat a regulation that would make it harder for immigrants to obtain lawful permanent residence in the U.S.
    • SIGN THE PLEDGE to submit a public comment when this rule is published. Share it widely with your friends, colleagues and institutions.
  • Talk about this issue with your friends, family, neighbors, etc. Immigration policy and law is complex, but human rights are not. Help us put a face to this issue by discussing the real impact of these policies on immigrant families and children. You can find our research on this topic here.
  • Organize. It was people power and organizing that brought together millions of concerned citizens and advocates on June 30th at Families Belong Together rallies. The League offers advocacy trainings to organizations and groups. Contact Renell Weathers, rweathers@milhs.org to learn more.

— Vikki Crouse

And, these are the good times for kids and families

Added July 2nd, 2018 by Alicia Guevara Warren | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Alicia Guevara Warren

I grew up here in Lansing and went to college at the “other school” to the south (Go Blue!) during difficult economic times in Michigan. I decided to go out-of-state for graduate school, but was determined to come back to my home state and help my community. I returned during the rise of the Great Recession when jobs were scarce and we all knew someone who was experiencing financial hardship and/or impacted by the growing foreclosure crisis. Things would only get worse before getting better. Child poverty rates would actually peak five years later in 2012 at nearly 25%.

Now, we’ve been in an economic recovery period for close to a decade and there have been improvements for kids and families. But, how much? The national 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book was recently released and ranks Michigan 33rd overall for child well-being. We are last in the Great Lakes region, again, and fall in the bottom half of the country in three of the four categories of child well-being:

  • Economic well-being: 31st
  • Education: 38th
  • Health: 25th
  • Family and community: 30th

AECF_KCDB_dadBadge_300Compared to 2010, the first year after the end of the Great Recession, all four of the individual measures of economic security, including child poverty, have gotten better. However, we continue to rank last in the region and our national ranking remains unchanged from last year.

Other states are doing better and are improving at a faster pace.

The state ranks sixth worse in the country in the rate of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods with some of the highest rates for kids of color. Michigan policymakers must do more to invest in our children, families and communities addressing both racial and ethnic equity and poverty to improve opportunities and remove barriers that many in our state are facing. The League’s most recent Budget Brief outlines some of the missed opportunities.

The report also highlights a major concern: the 2020 Census. In Michigan, about 62,000 young children are at risk of being missed. Approximately 11% of young children statewide and 70% of young children in Detroit live in hard-to-count census tracts and could go uncounted in the next decennial census. Young children, kids of color, those in families with low incomes and children in immigrant families are more likely to be missed. Many of our state’s programs funded with federal support rely on an accurate count to meet the need. Our KIDS COUNT research, which helps inform many state and local decisions, relies on an accurate collection, too!

With the addition of an unnecessary, untested citizenship question and under-resourcing of the Census Bureau, there is much work to be done to ensure that every child is counted. This includes fully funding outreach campaigns in targeted areas, addressing privacy and confidentiality concerns and increasing the number of trusted messengers. If you’re interested in getting involved, check out the work happening here in Michigan.

While we continue to hear about the great progress being made in Michigan, let’s not forgot about the significant number of kids and families being left out. These might be the good times for some, but not for all. Are we doing enough to protect our kids and families from the next economic recession?

— Alicia Guevara Warren

One-two punch: Budgets knock people out of the ring

Added June 29th, 2018 by Rachel Richards | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Rachel Richards

When I heard that Congressional republicans are working on a budget that cuts vital services that our most vulnerable residents rely on—like Medicare, nutritional programs, and other anti-poverty programs—not to mention other programs all Americans use, I didn’t have to think long before I remembered my warnings from the end of last year.

The significant, deficit-increasing tax cuts for profitable corporations and wealthy individuals will ultimately harm services we all rely on.

Turns out, I’ve actually had a lot of experience predicting this. Michigan’s recent history of favoring tax cuts over investment has resulted in a state with underfunded K-12 education, unskilled and untrained workers, decaying roads, water that is unsafe to drink, lead in our homes and a widening gap between the “haves” and the “have nots.”

man with boxing glovesGovernor Snyder recently signed into law the budget for the next year. To be honest, it was at best “meh.” Yes, there were a number of good investments: continuation of the “heat and eat policy”, an increase to the school clothing allowance for children receiving cash assistance (which the League has long advocated for), a fairly significant increase in the per-pupil payment, and a bit more money for adult education (again, a League priority). However, there were a lot of missed opportunities—notably an increase to the already paltry cash assistance grant and increased access to child care assistance. In addition, in 2020 the state will likely start taking away healthcare from Healthy Michigan recipients who are unable to find work.

Again—and sadly—this is nothing new. Over the years, we have seen the state’s increasing reliance on federal funds, the shifting of School Aid Funds away from K-12 public schools to cover the costs of the state’s universities and colleges, and policy decisions that have resulted in a very huge drop in the number of very poor children who can receive any state assistance.

Instead, the state has prioritized cutting taxes instead of investing in Michigan’s people.

From the 2011 tax shift, to budget-busting legacy business tax credits that will cost our state around $600 million per year for the next decade or more, to the repeal of the personal property tax, to triggered income tax rate cuts, to small property or sales tax exemptions, to the increase in the personal exemption (which the League opposed), the Legislature nicked and slashed away at our state coffers. At the same time, the state has shifted money around–$600 million general fund for roads and $900 million from K-12 to higher education, among other shifts—in order to avoid raising taxes.

Unfortunately, in order to become an attractive state to businesses and residents alike, we need to start making investments. The state has offered significant tax cuts to help encourage out-of-state businesses to come to Michigan, and some haven’t come because we lacked the infrastructure and the people power to make it work. Low taxes clearly aren’t the key motivating factor (in fact, Michigan’s not even a high-tax state already). Investment is the key—and to do that, Michigan needs to look at some revenue-raising, progressive tax changes.

People have been left out of the ring for far too long, and it’s time to change that.

— Rachel Richards

Housing is the key to health and opportunity

Added June 25th, 2018 by Julie Cassidy | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Julie Cassidy

My dad was a self-taught woodworker who could build anything—wonderful toys for my sister and me, custom furniture for our neighbors, and even a massive ark for a local synagogue. But of his countless projects, he always said what made him the proudest was our house. For months, he spent his days off from his job as a firefighter working alongside the builders to construct the happy home where my family would live for more than twenty years.

A crack in MIs foundation chart 2 for blogWhile working on the opening installment of Home, Health, Hope, the League’s new series on Michigan’s dire shortage of affordable housing, I’ve been thinking a lot about what a huge impact that house had on my entire life trajectory. I owe my well-being as an adult largely to growing up in a safe, healthy home and a neighborhood with lots of green space, good schools, virtually no crime or violence and strong bonds between longtime neighbors.

When I was in middle school, the local newspaper published a story about some children who were removed from their home because their family was living in an abandoned convenience store with no electricity or running water, a cockroach infestation and only a kerosene heater to keep warm. No names were used, but we all knew who the kids were: one of our classmates and her younger siblings.

Sadly, in her early 30s, that classmate died of a heart attack, a blunt testament to her precarious childhood housing situation and the toxic stress of such unthinkable and undeserved hardship.

Economic changes of the last few decades have left many families struggling to afford safe, healthy homes. Low-wage service jobs have replaced the well-paid unskilled manufacturing jobs that helped sustain Michigan’s middle class for so long and income inequality has grown. Housing costs may be especially crushing to renters and households with extremely low incomes.

The Great Recession hit Michiganders of color the hardest, and the unemployment and income disparities remaining in its aftermath continue historical patterns that leave African-American, Native American and Latinx families disproportionately burdened by unaffordable housing costs and low housing quality.

a crack in Michigans foundation chart 1 for blogWhile incomes have stagnated or declined for much of the population, rents have been rising. Today, 40% of Michigan families cannot afford to give their children the basics that are critical to good health, academic success and opportunity for the future. Full-time work at the minimum wage isn’t enough to afford adequate housing for a family anywhere in the state.

Unaffordable housing costs force people to make budget trade-offs that are harmful to health and safety: cuts to spending on nutritious food and healthcare; low-quality homes where occupants are exposed to asthma triggers and toxins like lead; overcrowding; frequent moves; and homelessness. All of these things interfere with mental health, school and work attendance and productivity. The results are fewer children reaching their full potential, increased healthcare costs and a less competitive labor force.

Over the next few months, we’ll be taking a look at the different aspects of Michigan’s affordable housing crisis, what local communities are doing about it and potential policy solutions. Join us as we examine what’s happening in Detroit and Grand Rapids, how utility bills contribute to the housing cost burden, housing discrimination and the particular barriers different groups of people face in securing homes that foster health and well-being.

Quality housing is essential to a healthy population and a healthy economy. To ensure a bright future for Michigan, we must act to make sure it’s affordable and accessible to all.

— Julie Cassidy

Do you still remember the first time you voted?

Added June 20th, 2018 by Karen Holcomb-Merrill | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Karen Holcomb-Merrill

I still remember the first time I voted. I remember pulling the lever on the old-style voting booth that brought the curtain around behind me so that I could vote in privacy. I feel kind of nostalgic about those voting booths. Although voting is a different experience now, it’s still one of the most important rights and duties that we have as citizens

adventures awaitHere in Michigan, this is a big election year. We will have the opportunity to vote for who will represent us in the state House and Senate, the governor’s office, the US House and Senate, and other state offices. At the state level, these elections will help determine the direction our state moves in for at least the next four years, and maybe even longer. And you know what they say, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain!

Along with the responsibility of voting comes the responsibility of learning about the candidates and where they stand on issues of importance to you. There will be opportunities between now and the August primary and the November general election to meet with candidates and to ask them questions. I hope you will take advantage of those opportunities.

To help with some of those questions, the League has created a list of potential questions that you might consider asking candidates. Those questions range from questions on taxes and revenue, to supporting Michigan families, to healthcare, to immigration, to jobs and the economy, and more. The questions center on issues that affect the health and well-being and economic security of Michiganders.

So mark your calendars and get ready to cast your informed vote! Michigan’s primary election will be on August 7th and the general election is on November 6th.

— Karen Holcomb-Merrill

Despite positive developments in funding for housing services, threats remain

Added June 12th, 2018 by Julie Cassidy | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Julie Cassidy

In an era of relentless attacks on the services and policies that empower struggling families to achieve their American dream, federal housing assistance is the latest target.

Earlier this year, Ben Carson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), announced a proposal to raise rents for families that receive federal rental assistance, eliminate some of the income deductions used to calculate eligibility and benefit levels, and impose work requirements on able-bodied adult recipients.

Rental assistance encompasses several programs, such as public housing and Section 8 housing vouchers, that ensure that more than 145,000 Michigan families can afford a roof over their heads. Safe, affordable housing is a crucial social determinant of health. People who can’t afford quality housing are forced to make budget trade-offs that jeopardize health and safety, limit academic performance and earning potential, and make it extremely difficult to rise out of poverty.

federal rental assistance promotes health ed & work 400x400Fortunately, Congress has rejected Secretary Carson’s plan thus far. The Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved a spending bill that increases HUD funding by nearly $2 billion, in addition to the 10% increase Congress agreed to in the omnibus budget bill earlier this year. The Senate’s bill for budget year 2019 largely maintains existing housing assistance services and even increases funding for some programs, including public housing, homeless assistance and vouchers for veterans and youth aging out of foster care. Although the HUD bill approved earlier by a House subcommittee includes lower funding than the Senate’s version, it too avoids the rent increases and other harmful cuts desired by the Trump administration.

But we can’t let our guard down just yet. The House Financial Services Committee has held a hearing and reportedly could soon vote on draft legislation that’s received substantially less attention than Secretary Carson’s proposal but could have an even more devastating impact on families that receive housing assistance. Sponsored by Congressman Dennis Ross (R-FL), this bill would:

  • Replace the current method for calculating a family’s rent obligation (30% of household income, which is the level at which housing is widely considered to be “affordable”) with an income-based tiered rent structure, penalizing some working tenants with steep rent increases for a modest increase in earnings.
  • Allow elimination of income deductions for childcare and medical expenses in calculating eligibility and benefit levels, which would harm seniors, people with disabilities and working families with children.
  • Allow a tenant’s benefits to be reduced every two years regardless of income, essentially imposing an arbitrary time limit on housing assistance.
  • Allow public housing agencies (PHAs) to establish other rent setting policies with little HUD oversight or assurance of resident protection, potentially creating a patchwork of rent structures that impede tenants who need to move among communities to pursue economic opportunities.
  • In a misguided attempt to serve more households, allow PHAs to reduce the per-household voucher amount to a level that won’t support housing stability or enable struggling families to live in neighborhoods with better opportunities for health, education and employment.

This bill is counterproductive to the goal of moving families that use housing assistance to self-sufficiency. Let your U.S. Representatives know it will harm some of our nation’s most vulnerable people, create barriers to work and weaken communities. As members of the House Financial Services Committee, Michigan Congressmen Bill Huizenga and Dan Kildee in particular should hear from their constituents and advocates in their districts. Finally, if housing assistance has made a difference for your family, the League wants to hear from you! A personal story is often the most powerful tool when it comes to making policy changes. Please consider emailing us to share your story today.

— Julie Cassidy

 

My road to policy

Added June 11th, 2018 by MLPP | Email This Entry Email This Entry
MLPP
Logan Drummond

Logan Drummond

In my home county, over a five-year period, the poverty rate for families was at 17.5%, including nearly 20% of children under 18, and over 40% of single parent (female) families. These rates contribute to less revenue from property taxes for schools, which in turn leads to fewer resources for public education than higher-income areas. Gaps in services have been a long-running issue in rural and other communities where many have lower incomes. My experience in my hometown showcases such gaps in the example of school funding and how it can impact students’ experiences.

Lenawee County

Lenawee County

I was born in a rural town in Southeast Michigan. My mother was originally from Belgium, and my brother was on the autism spectrum. Fitting into this town was a difficult and potentially impossible task for our family. Not only were we isolated without family ties and support in town, but we were further alienated because people were unaware of what autism was, so my brother was often the victim of bullying. These experiences led me to become a social worker and a policy advocate, and I want to continue to fight against injustices that any oppressed individuals might face by influencing and informing policy change.

I used to fight bullies, and now I want to fight systemic bullying. The work that the Michigan League for Public Policy does every day—including their advocacy for equity in our society at every level, including public schools—led to my interest in their summer internship. The League impacts state and federal issues, while also taking into account grassroots organizations and the communities affected by these policies.

There may have been avenues in terms of policy that may have prevented what my brother and I experienced, in addition to many other pressing issues in the city. My hometown’s school system was desperately underfunded (my high school principal was also our Spanish teacher, for example). By the time I graduated from high school, most of the best teachers were leaving because of declines in their income and benefits due to budget cuts. Plus, they could find better paying jobs in other districts. If there had been more funding, perhaps there would have been more school staff that could have prevented some of the bullying. There may have been more training for our teachers on how to approach and support someone with autism in their classes.

The impacts of uneven funding per student in public schools can be seen across the state and country. Wealthy communities and their schools have higher property tax revenues so they receive the best educational experience possible. All while schools like mine and in other high-poverty communities receive less funding due to having much lower property values. My city had nearly $2,000 less funding in total resources per pupil than another, more affluent city that was only 20 minutes away. This is another example of the need to promote equity by providing funding based on need.

The reason I want to be a public policy advocate through a social work lens is to find ways of promoting equity in our society, and to try to ensure that fewer people feel bullied thanks to those changes. One example of the Michigan League for Public Policy’s advocacy for equity is their support of the At-Risk Program, which provides funding to increase resources for high-poverty schools. The League raised the concern that the program has been underfunded, and this observation may lead to more increases in the program’s funding, ultimately providing more support to places like my hometown’s schools. My personal experiences with policy and its effects show exactly why I chose to work in policy, and why the Michigan League for Public Policy already feels like a perfect fit.

— Logan Drummond

More work needed on child care investments

Added June 8th, 2018 by Pat Sorenson | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Pat Sorenson

Yesterday morning, a joint House/Senate conference committee approved a final budget for child care services for the 2019 budget year. At issue was how Michigan would allocate $65 million in new federal funds to improve access to high quality child care for families with low wages.

On the positive side, the committee approved a new payment system for child care providers—many of whom are small businesses operating at the margin. Child care providers have struggled with hourly payments for child care—a policy that doesn’t align with how they generally bill parents, which is for half-day or full-day care on at least a weekly basis. In addition to the burden of documenting hours of care, with hourly billing, providers could not count on a steady stream of income, making some less willing to care for children with state subsidies.

The final budget adds $15 million in new federal funding to establish biweekly payments with the following schedule: (1) providers caring for children up to 30 hours every two weeks are paid hourly; (2) those between 31 and 60 hours of care are paid at 60 hours; (3) between 61 to 80 hours receive payments for 80 hours; and (4) for 81 to 90 hours, payments are for 90 hours of care.

child care 350x233While this steadier stream of income is important to ensure a supply of child care for families working at low wage jobs, there is much that wasn’t achieved in the 2019 budget. First, the conference committee rejected a Senate-proposed increase in the rates paid to child care providers. Low rates make it difficult for providers to improve the quality of care, including hiring and retaining qualified staff and maintaining their facilities. In the end, low rates can force child care providers to make business decisions to not take children who are receiving state subsidies, or force families to pick up the difference between what the subsidy provides and what the provider charges other families.

Also not addressed in the final budget was Michigan’s restrictive income eligibility threshold for child care—the second lowest in the nation. In response to new federal requirements, Michigan raised its “exit” eligibility level to 250% of poverty so families could keep their child care even if they get more hours or a small pay increase. This 2015 policy change helped to stem the decline in the number of families receiving child care assistance, and the Legislature is now predicting a caseload increase in 2019 at a cost of nearly $25 million. However, all families entering the child care program must earn less than 130% of poverty, and caseloads remain well below those a decade ago.

Other gaps in Michigan’s child care system that must still be closed are the lack of high-quality care in many underserved communities; shortages of affordable infant care; and the scarcity of care for parents who work evenings, weekends or with uncertain schedules.

Michigan has a long way to go in building a high-quality child care system that meets the needs of working parents. The state is expecting an additional $65 million in federal child care funds in the current budget year and subsequent years, and must ensure that those funds are fully expended in ways that benefit the children and families most in need. Further, to make high-quality child care affordable for all working families, it is time to look at other sources of revenue. Michigan is third from the bottom of states in its use of federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant dollars for child care, and state General Fund commitments are minimal.

Parents are struggling with the high cost of child care, and business leaders understand that the lack of child care affects their bottom line in terms of recruitment and retention. If Michigan lawmakers are serious about growing the state’s economy and encouraging work, they must rethink investments in child care.

— Pat Sorenson

It’s always time to campaign for what’s right

Added June 6th, 2018 by Gilda Z. Jacobs | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Gilda Z. Jacobs

From the First Tuesday newsletter
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Running for office is no picnic. It takes willpower, dedication, tireless supporters, long nights, longer days, good walking shoes and lots of coffee. I applaud the folks who are working this summer to earn the support of the people they want to represent—the job of campaigning is a tough one, indeed. And I know that everyone out there running for office believes they’re doing what’s right for their communities, but it’s easy for some leaders to lose sight of that goal when faced with partisan politics.

Here at the League, we have the advantage of a nonpartisan agenda. We’re able to fight for what we know will help the people of Michigan, and we don’t need to be concerned with mudslinging based on political parties. That doesn’t mean we don’t face challenges, though. And our biggest challenge right now comes from an attack not on Democrats or Republicans, but an attack on all Michiganders with low incomes.

We’ve been fighting Senate Bill 897, which will take healthcare from vulnerable Michiganders by placing harsh work requirements on Medicaid recipients. The House Appropriations Committee will take up this bill TOMORROW. If you haven’t already, please contact your lawmaker and tell them to oppose this bill. We’re so disturbed by this assault on Michiganders who already struggle to put food on the table—and we’re deeply concerned that they have become pawns in an election year blame game. People with low incomes are not the cause of our state’s problems, and lawmakers must stop spreading that harmful myth.

Act Now 275x275We’re committed to stopping this bill, and if reports of Governor Snyder agreeing to it are true, then we urge him to reconsider. This shortsighted bill would upend the Healthy Michigan Plan, which was built due to his successful efforts. No exemptions or amendments will make Senate Bill 897 a good piece of policy.

While the bill is deeply concerning, there are certainly some bright spots in our work lately. One of these is our involvement in the Promote the Vote Michigan campaign. We joined Promote the Vote early on because none of our goals as an organization can be met if Michigan doesn’t start with a foundation of fair elections. I encourage you to explore the campaign’s website and attend some of their training and advocacy meetings. Michiganders can’t win if they can’t count on a voting system that works for everyone.

In other election-related news, we’re also glad to see that the issue of earned sick leave should finally be making its way to the ballot in November. It’s just common sense to make sure people can stay home when illness hits them or their children. It’s better for workers, employers and the public good.

We also know that the 2019 state budget is close to being finalized, and we’re hopeful that with some additional revenue the Legislature will invest in programs and infrastructure that will help Michigan’s workers and families.

As we continue to work for Michigan this summer, we want to thank you for all you do to help the League. Whether it’s by following us on social media, sharing your story with us, or simply staying up to date on our activities through email, your support means the world to us. And if you support the work we do in spirit, please consider supporting it with a gift. We know that you may have many commitments during this election year, but your donation makes it possible for us to improve the lives of all Michiganders through policy and advocacy. Our goals don’t follow an election calendar—we’re fighting consistently and without partisanship to build a stronger Michigan.

And please don’t forget that we’re here for you. Our candidate questions, advocacy guides, interactive data and reports are designed to help you make a difference in your own communities. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like more information about how to use those resources.

Whether you’re knocking on doors, making phone calls or just spending time in the hammock, I wish you a wonderful start of the summer season.

— Gilda Z. Jacobs

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