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                                                                         Michigan League FOR Human Services
First Tuesday Newsletter March 2010
In This Issue
From poodle cuts to pedicures: Why we need a sales tax on services
Fact sheet covers budget impact on kids and families
Health policy forum set for April 23 with Ron Pollack of Families USA
Recovery Act helped Michigan families
Get your Money Back in Michigan
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A note from Sharon Parks 
Governor's budget has balance
Photo of Sharon Parks
Last month when I wrote my First Tuesday column the governor was about a week away from presenting her final, and probably most difficult, budget. We've now had a chance to look at that budget and, while it is not all that we would like to see, it is a balanced approach. The FY2011 Executive Budget includes a mix of spending cuts, tax cuts for business, new revenues and reforms. 


Although the League is very disturbed by the prospect of more cuts in spending and massive early retirements, we're solidly in support of expanding the sales tax to services. (See story below "From Poodle Cuts to Pedicures...") We are concerned, however, about lowering the sales tax rate to a point that the revenue yield is less than needed. 


The League also supports the governor's proposed physician's tax as a means of averting another reduction in Medicaid reimbursement rates. We also believe the governor, like most of the nation's governors, is right in assuming at least two more quarters of federal recovery money through a higher Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) matching rate.


While the governor's plan was in large part drawn from the Business Leaders for Michigan Turnaround Plan, the business community doesn't like it -- even though the budget calls for significant business tax cuts. And, despite this balanced approach, it appears by all accounts that the budget is dead on arrival in both the House and the Senate, as the House speaker and Senate majority leader both call for a cuts-only budget. 


The prospects for folks who are desperately trying to make it in this brutal economy are bleak indeed. A cuts-only budget would not only continue the deep cuts made in the current year's budget, but would further shred the safety net and curtail a wide range of services in local communities across the state.


So much is at stake. A generation of children needs the opportunity to realize their full potential. Tens of thousands of adults in Michigan need the opportunity to gain the skills and education to compete for a job in the workforce that pays a family-sustaining wage.  Communities that have seen their infrastructure ravaged by this economy need to be vibrant and safe once again. 


The League has joined an important effort called A Better Michigan Future. The campaign's platform also offers a balanced approach to solving Michigan's fiscal problems.  It does so in way that modernizes the state's tax structure and provides transparency and accountability. I hope everyone will look carefully at this approach and join in an effort to chart a new course for Michigan.  


Sharon Parks signature
President and CEO Sharon Parks
Photo of poodleFrom poodle cuts to pedicures... 
High unemployment and the prolonged recession mean the needs of Michigan's families are growing just as the state has fewer resources to help them.

It's apparent that a more balanced approach is needed when it comes to revenue. Michigan needs a better alternative to a cuts-only approach and temporary tax increases. One solution is to modernize Michigan's antiquated sales tax. See From Poodle Cuts to Pedicures: Why We Need a Sales Tax on Services. See a recent blog post on the subject.

Fact sheet: Budget impact on kids, families
MLHS and KC LogosDramatic budget cuts were made in fiscal year 2010 in all five areas tracked by the Kids Count in Michigan project. The areas are economic security, child health, adolescence, child abuse and neglect, and education.
Michigan children and families: How they fare in the FY10 budget is a two-page fact sheet that boils down budget changes in the current year affecting children and families.
Ron Pollack photoMajor health policy forum set for April 23
Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA and a nationally known advocate for access to health care, will be the keynote speaker Friday, April 23, at a forum sponsored by the Michigan League for Human Services and the Michigan Health Insurance Access Advisory Council. Pollack will speak about the challenges and opportunities for states in federal health care reform.

"Federal Health Care Reform: Challenges for the State,'' will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Eagle Eye Golf Club just north of East Lansing. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow is the invited luncheon speaker.

Stay tuned for more information.

Recovery Act helped Michigan families
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed a year ago, injected billions into Michigan's economy, helped thousands of Michigan residents stay out of poverty and avoided massive layoffs of teachers and other public sector workers.


In addition, the Recovery Act put money in the pockets of most workers through the Making Work Pay tax credit, spawned more than 750 road projects and provided other needed economic supports to unemployed workers and low-income families. See the press release and a recent blog post on the one-year anniversary of ARRA.  

Money Back in Michigan: You earned it, you keep it!
EITC logoLow- and moderate-income Michigan families can put hundreds or even thousands of dollars back into their household budgets by using free tax-filing help and making sure they file for all available credits and deductions this tax season.
Money Back in Michigan explains those credits in an easy-to-read format that can be printed and placed in public areas, such as doctor offices, libraries and community centers.
New this year are expansions in the state and federal Earned Income Tax Credits, an expanded federal Child Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit to make higher education more affordable. Also, learn how to keep your money! Don't put your refund in someone else's pocket!
Sign up for Factually Speaking
Two months after launching the League's new blog, Factually Speaking, more than 2,200 have visited the site and more than 130 have subscribed.
Recent topics include health care reform, the federal child tax credit and the extension of unemployment benefits. The staff blog offers timely budget updates, insights and news from an advocacy viewpoint. 
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