The Michigan Poverty Task Force (PFT) released its second set of policy recommendations in its 2022 report to support individuals and families in our state who live in households that earn lower wages.
The United Way’s ALICE Report shows that 1.4 million Michiganders fall below the poverty level, 20% of Michigan children live in poverty and 43% of 4.3 million working Michigan households struggle to afford basic necessities like housing, childcare, food, technology, health care and transportation.
As CMF reported, Governor Gretchen Whitmer created the PFT in 2019 with the goal of reducing poverty in Michigan. The task force, led by the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), consists of leaders from 14 state departments, with input from the Legislature, philanthropy and community organizations who have worked together throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to develop a comprehensive anti-poverty agenda for Michigan.
The PFT’s 2022 report offers 29 policy recommendations, including five from the first report, designed to address disparities that increase poverty and illness for Michiganders. The recommendations are organized around social determinants of health or non-medical factors that influence health outcomes.
The recommendations focus on five key areas:
- Income and Social Protection:
- Increase investments in a universal benefit application so Michigan residents can apply for resources in one place.
- Provide an option for parents to deposit their child support payments into the Children’s Savings Accounts (CSA) program.
- Review Michigan’s restrictions on programs and services for immigrants.
- Housing, Basic Amenities and the Environment:
- Create Statewide Rental Housing Partnership Trust.
- Incorporate the Home Heating Credit application into the MI Bridges process.
- Establish a Rental Registry to track lead abatement efforts in rental dwellings.
- Develop an eviction diversion program.
- Expand housing assistance to foster youth.
- Develop alternative eligibility for those born outside of the U.S. and nonresident Michigan homebuyers and/or renters.
- Early Childhood Development:
- Support the implementation and development of a Rural Child Care Initiative in Michigan.
- Develop a universal home visitation program for all newborn children in the first month of life.
- Social Inclusion and Nondiscrimination:
- Develop a language access plan.
- Improve water quality and affordability.
- Access to Affordable Health Services of Decent Quality:
- Extend health care coverage to children of qualified immigrants.
- Support policies that give people with behavioral health needs access to treatment instead of incarceration.
“To make Michigan a place of opportunity, we have to invest in Michiganders and ensure they have access to quality, affordable healthcare and the chance to earn a great education or land a good-paying job,” Whitmer said. “There is a strong connection between the health and wealth of Michiganders and this report helps us address barriers to economic stability that impede health outcomes. Together, we made significant investments in the last state budget to uplift working families, but we must do more to deliver on the kitchen-table issues, lower costs, and continue growing Michigan’s economy.”
The report offered bright spots since the PFT introduced policy recommendations in its first report in 2021, highlighting 14 recommendations that have either been adopted or have gained momentum.
Progress at a glance:
- Expansion of the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): PTF’s 2021 report urged state policymakers to boost the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit from the current 6% to at least 20%. Progress has been made in the effort to boost the state’s EITC. In her FY 2023 budget proposal, Whitmer expressed support for a 20% EITC state match. As CMF reported, CMF is partnering with Michigan Future, Michigan League for Public Policy and others in supporting the increase of the state EITC to 30%. More than 80 business, religious, service and policy groups around the state have come together to support a proposal to raise Michigan’s EITC.
- Invest in the Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund: In its 2021 report, the PTF urged policymakers to find a consistent funding source for the program and to invest at least $10 million annually in it. Whitmer proposed that the state invest $100 million in the fund using federal American Rescue Plan dollars.
- Support Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs): In its 2021 report, PTF touted CSAs as a proven strategy to build wealth and foster college-going mindsets in Michigan families. In June 2021, Whitmer announced a bipartisan funding plan that leverages $255 million in federal dollars and $150 million in state dollars to expand access to the program to every eligible 4-year-old in Michigan for the next three years. The FY 2022 budget included a $1 million appropriation to build a statewide infrastructure for CSAs.
- Expanding Broadband Access: The PTF recommended expansion of strategies to expand broadband access in Michigan. In June 2021, Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Directive 2021-02, which established the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office (MIHI) to make high-speed internet more affordable and accessible.
“In 2021, the Poverty Task Force made significant progress in its advocacy for our recommended policy changes to ensure that every Michigander has access to economic opportunity and prosperity,” Kim Trent, Deputy Director of Prosperity at LEO and leader of the PFT said. “With these next set of recommendations, we are proposing solutions designed to make struggling Michiganders wealthier and healthier.”
Read the full report.