Peri’s Public Policy Bulletin: April 2

Published

Peri Weisberg
Public Policy Associate
United Way for Southeastern Michigan

Since my last update, I’ve been paying close attention to proposals for Michigan’s state budget. Most of the subcommittees responsible for each budget area have completed a preliminary recommendation; those recommendations will be up for votes in the House and Senate Appropriations committees soon, followed by a vote of the entire chamber. I’ve included highlights of the current recommendations in the full update.

The federal budget process is also underway, but few specific proposals have surfaced. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget guidelines, which are not binding but reflect the general fiscal attitude of the House of Representatives, made news for the drastic changes they proposed to entitlement programs and drastic cuts to discretionary spending.

Also in the update are recent news about the Social Innovation Fund, the school readiness of the nation’s young children, consequences of cuts to the food stamp program, and changes in eligibility requirements for the state’s public assistance programs. Click here to read the whole thing, and don’t forget to visit the links for in-depth information on a topic.

Don’t have time to read the whole update right now? Here are some highlights:

Education

  • Social Innovation Fund (SIF): United Way for Southeastern Michigan announced that our SIF grant will provide $8 million for early childhood programs in Southeastern Michigan. Rep. Hansen Clarke committed to circulate a letter to his peers in the House requesting continued funding support of SIF. Sen. Debbie Stabenow has signed a Senate version of this letter.
  • School readiness: This Brookings paper, “Starting school at a disadvantage: the school readiness of poor children,” examines the causes of low school readiness and finds that more preschool programs can address the problem. 
  • Kindergarten assessments: United Way for Southeastern Michigan compares two of the school readiness assessments currently in use or development in Michigan.

Income

Basic Needs

  • Cash Assistance/Family Independence Program (FIP): A circuit court ruled that the Department of Human Services did not have authority to remove 11,000 families from FIP for exceeding federal time limits. DHS will appeal the ruling. Bridge Magazine recently profiled cases of individuals with disabilities and their caregivers who have lost eligibility for FIP since the welfare reforms.
  • Food Stamps/Food Assistance Program: The House and Senate passed bills to help the state disqualify lottery winners from receiving food assistance. They include a mandatory asset limit for food assistance recipients. The current asset limit is a regulatory choice, not a legislative mandate. The Lansing State Journal covered the controversy over abuse in the program.
  • Low-income diets: USDA reports on characteristics and dietary patterns of healthy and less-healthy eaters in the low-income population.

You can see the full recap of recent public policy developments by clicking here.