Department of Human Services Conference Report “A Mixed Bag”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Lansing)—Today the Department of Human Services (DHS) conference committee reported out to the full Legislature a Fiscal Year 2012 spending plan that is “a mixed bag,” according to the Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC). This session the Conference has tracked in the DHS budget the Children’s Clothing Allowance program, the State Disability Assistance (SDA) program, and an earned income disregard in the Family Independence Program (FIP).
“This budget really is a mixed bag,” said Michigan Catholic Conference Vice President for Public Policy Tom Hickson. “On one hand, the MCC applauds the conference report’s language to allow those receiving FIP assistance to earn additional income while still receiving benefits, and we support the committee’s efforts to maintain current funding levels for disabled persons incapable of working. On the other hand, while it is the intention of the Legislature to utilize the increase in the earned income disregard to offset cuts to the clothing allowance program, the nearly $10 million cut to the clothing allowance is cause for concern as revised eligibility means some 124,000 vulnerable children will lose the benefit.”
According to the conference report for Senate Bill 179:
Increasing the earned income disregard will allow for low-wage earners to earn up to $14,000 per year while continuing to receive FIP benefits;
The Children’s Clothing Allowance program will be reduced from nearly $12.9 million to approximately $2.9 million, and eligibility will be altered to allow for children with no work-eligible adult in the home to receive an average of $79 per child. Funding from this program will provide revenue for the increased earned income disregard; and
The State Disability Assistance (SDA) program will be retained at $269 per month for all current cases. Future recipients will receive a reduced amount of $200 per month.
“Allowing for an increase to the amount a FIP recipient can earn is consistent with the Conference’s long-standing welfare reform principle for those on assistance to have greater access to employment, job training and work, and we appreciate the DHS subcommittee chairs for agreeing to this provision,” said Hickson. “We urge the Legislature to revisit cuts to the clothing allowance program and future benefits for disabled persons once additional revenue is realized by the state as these programs provide an essential safety net for those most in need.”
Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.