Let’s resolve to make Michigan healthier

Added January 2nd, 2013 by Gilda Z. Jacobs | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Gilda Z. Jacobs
From the January newsletter
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Happy New Year!

As you make your New Year’s resolutions – healthy eating and exercising are my all-time favorites – let’s resolve to make Michigan a healthier place too.

The start of the New Year means that budget setting is right around the corner. First with the governor’s executive budget, then with the Legislature’s public hearings and votes, the budget process is our chance to set our priorities as a state.

The recent events in Newtown, Conn. remind those of us in public policy debates to examine our priorities, especially around children and their well-being. It’s no secret that the recession hit Michigan hard and we have yet to recover. One in every four children lives in poverty. (See our recent report on poverty for more information.) Research is clear that children, especially young children, who grow up in poverty suffer lifelong, negative consequences.

And our tax system is not designed to grow with inflation or need. In fact, cuts in business taxes have yet to result in major new job growth but have reduced revenue available to invest in our children or to restore resources that were slashed as our economy imploded even before the Great Recession in 2008.

I offer a simple principle in setting budget priorities, borrowed from the Simpson-Bowles agreement at the federal level that has been viewed as a model on both sides of the aisle.

First and foremost: The state budget should not increase income inequality or poverty in our state.

We know that the 2011 vote to reduce the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit did exactly that, pushing working families into poverty and broadening the divide between the haves and have-nots. We can tackle this and begin restoring the state EITC, which was cut from 20% of the federal credit to 6%. It will reward work and keep children in working families out of poverty.

We have the EITC and other tools to reduce poverty and income inequality. So let’s resolve to work together and make Michigan a healthier, happier place in 2013.

— Gilda Z. Jacobs

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