Lansing Update: Pro-Family Policies Would Propel Michigan’s Population
Posted December 1, 2023
Supporting Family Life & Growth Crucial to Addressing State’s Population Woes
When it comes to addressing Michigan’s stagnant population growth, public policymakers should view proposed solutions through the lens of supporting family life by making it easier to have and raise children in this state, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) stated in a recent letter to the co-chairs of a panel assembled by Gov. Whitmer to address the state’s population problem.
MCC issued a press release this week announcing the letter, which proposes a Catholic perspective that emphasizes family life and policies that can make raising a family easier, or at least more affordable, in the state.
In the past year, Gov. Whitmer and other state leaders have been discussing the state’s stagnant population growth over the course of decades and have called for action to address the problem. As a result, the Governor assembled the Growing Michigan Together Council, which has invited public input as it compiles formal recommendations for the Governor and Legislature before its Dec. 15 deadline.
MCC’s letter to the Council noted the Governor has said previously that she wants Michigan to provide “expanded opportunities for families.” Much of the public discourse around the Council’s work, however, has focused on attracting people to move to Michigan. In its letter, MCC said “it is also important to consider policies to help directly foster family growth in our state,” given that the “family is the core social unit in society.”
Crafting public policy with a focus on encouraging couples to have children and improving family life in Michigan will help the families already here to grow and prosper, and at the same time, attract people from other states to move here with their family or to start their family here, MCC stated.
Along with Michigan’s stagnant population growth, MCC referenced a report indicating that Michigan’s birth rate is the lowest it’s been since World War II, which “represents an opportunity to consider policies to help reverse this trend and encourage more people to have children and raise families.”
And while all families need support, MCC said particular focus is needed to help Michigan’s lower-income residents afford the opportunity to start and raise families.
MCC called on the Council to recommend measures that “assist parents — or those who want to become parents — who are facing difficult economic circumstances,” adding that, “by creating a strong culture of support for parents who need assistance with food, housing, childcare, health insurance, material necessities for children, or even finding a job, Michigan should be a place where people can see themselves raising a family, no matter their circumstance.”
MCC’s advocacy continued in recommending policies that help mothers and fathers in need, as well as their unborn or newborn children, such as funding pregnancy and parenting support services, and more aid for Michigan’s network of pregnancy resource centers. MCC noted such proposals, which clearly align with the goal of supporting families to grow Michigan’s population, have previously been vetoed out of the budget by the Governor.
Other policies suggested for the support and growth of families included adoption of a state-based child tax credit, continued implementation and expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, expanding access to paid family leave time, and making quality childcare more affordable and accessible.
Also this week, the Governor’s Growing Michigan Together Council issued a report summarizing the public feedback received over the past few months. The report included several data points supporting MCC’s perspective that supporting families is essential to population growth.
For instance, a poll conducted of people who said they recently moved to Michigan found that a plurality — 45% — moved to Michigan because of family, making that the top reason the respondents said they moved back.
The Council also reported on the results of a national poll it arranged of people living in different metropolitan areas across the country outside of Michigan. According to the results, 27% said they chose to live where they do because of proximity to family and friends, second only to those who said jobs or educational opportunities was the reason for their choice. Additionally, 22% of those poll respondents listed proximity to family and friends as one of their top three factors in deciding where they lived.
After issuance of the press release this week, two online, subscriber-only newsletters read by Capitol insiders and policymakers prominently featured the MCC perspective on population growth in news stories. In addition to the letter and news release, MCC has engaged in a social media effort that ran on MCC’s Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn platforms this week.
To read more of the MCC press release, click or tap here.
To read the original letter MCC sent to the Council, click or tap here.
Prepare the Way for Jesus This Advent
This Sunday, December 3 marks the first Sunday of Advent, and Catholics are called to begin preparing for the celebration of the Incarnation of our Lord at Christmas.
Our faith tradition has recognized that our preparation for Christmas not only includes Jesus coming into the world for the first time as the Word Made Flesh, but also for Jesus’ return at the end of time. Advent is also a time to prepare for and make room for Jesus in our hearts. St. Bernard of Clairvoux put it this way:
We know that the coming of the Lord is threefold…The first coming was in flesh and weakness, the middle coming is in spirit and power, and the final coming will be in glory and majesty.
To make a prayerful pilgrimage to Christmas this Advent, there are many prayer resources available to assist in daily reflections. For many years, the Diocese of Saginaw’s ministry of distributing “Little Blue Books” has been useful for daily Advent reflections. These books may already be available at your parish.
Also this year, the Archdiocese of Detroit is offering a Eucharist-centered Advent reflection series based on their “I Am Here” campaign dedicated to promoting devotion to Our Lord in the Eucharist. To sign up, click or tap here.