In This Week’s Lansing Update:
- As 2011–12 Legislative Session Begins, Elimination of Michigan EITC Proposed
- Catholic Conference Applauds Selection of Justice Corrigan as DHS Director
This week members of the 96th Michigan Legislature were sworn into office with Republicans controlling both chambers: 26–12 in the State Senate and 63–47 in the House of Representatives. With such sizeable majorities the GOP has stated it will look immediately to decrease state spending in order to resolve the state’s $1.85 billion budget deficit.
Among the proposals announced this week by House Republicans was enacting a 48-month limit on welfare benefits, and eliminating the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit. Michigan Catholic Conference immediately announced its opposition to the EITC proposal as the Conference has long been an ardent supporter of the credit as it does more to move working families and children out of poverty than any other tax policy.
In 2002 MCC commissioned Anderson Economic Group to evaluate the impact of a state Earned Income Tax Credit. In 2008 Anderson updated its report for the Conference, which can be viewed here. The report provides a detailed overview of the tax credit, how it helps low-income workers, and its impact on local communities.
In 2005 when the Legislature pursued welfare reform the Conference made clear that compassion for the poor should guide legislators, and that the target of welfare reform should be poverty—not poor people. MCC also released three principles that should guide such reform. Those principles, which can be read here, still stand today as members of the Legislature plan to enact strict limits on benefits.
Members of the Legislature this week also formally selected their leaders. In the Senate, Senator Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) will serve as Senate Majority Leader for the next four years and Senator Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) will serve as Senate Minority Leader. State Representative Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) will serve as Speaker of the House and State Representative Richard Hammel (D-Mt. Morris Twp.) will lead House Democrats as minority leader.
Governor Rick Snyder (R) is scheduled to deliver his State of the State speech next Wednesday, January 19th at 7:00 p.m. With both chambers also announcing their committee assignments this week, the Legislature is expected to be in full swing after the Governor’s speech.
Michigan Catholic Conference released the following statement on January 6 regarding the appointment of Michigan Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan [Link no longer available —Ed.] as director of the Michigan Department of Human Services:
"Justice Corrigan has a well-deserved reputation for genuine concern and effective advocacy on behalf of the state’s children, especially in the critical areas of foster care and adoption. Governor Snyder’s selection of Justice Corrigan as director of DHS is commendable. As the process of reinventing and reforming the operation of state government begins, Michigan Catholic Conference is eager to work with the department, the administration and legislative leaders to ensure the vulnerable and needy, especially children, receive necessary services."
One of the Conference’s primary advocacy goals each legislative session is to speak on behalf of the poor and vulnerable population of the state, and to urge the Legislature to provide adequate funding for those social programs that prevent the state’s families and children from falling deeper into poverty.