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State task force, Whitmer urge new state policies to tackle root causes of poverty

“Creating conditions that give every Michigander access to economic opportunity and prosperity is one of the most sacred duties of state government.”
Credit: Governor Whitmer

LANSING, Mich. — Lifting millions of Michiganders out of poverty will require bold new initiatives, expanded state policies and a significant financial investment, according to a new report released Wednesday by the Michigan Poverty Task Force.

The group recently presented its findings – a list of 35 policy recommendations – to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. She created the task force back in December 2019 to identify new ways state government can help low-income Michiganders transcend poverty.

“The economic impact and hardships this pandemic has imposed on so many Michiganders only makes the work of this task force more critical,” Whitmer said. “These recommendations will help us ensure that Michigan families have access to the support they need. I look forward to working across the aisle and with our many stakeholders to implement the recommendations that have the biggest impact across our state.”

The group’s 35 recommendations include:

  • Benefits: Commission a comprehensive study on outcomes for former state assistance recipients and adopt a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) shelter stipend
  • Economics: Increase access to Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit; support and incubate children’s savings accounts; and expand the housing choice voucher pilot program between the Michigan State Housing and Development Authority and the Michigan Department of Corrections
  • Criminal Justice: Expand apprenticeship opportunities for inmates while incarcerated; and divert people with behavioral health needs away from the justice system
  • Health, Safety and Housing: Create child support pass-through to families who receive or have received cash assistance; and fund the Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund
  • Education: Expand the Great Start Readiness Program; expand Early Childhood Home Visiting and Maternal-Infant Health programs; increase income eligibility for child care; and expand school breakfast and breakfast-after-the-bell programs

“These recommendations are the first step toward restoring the state’s safety net and bringing opportunity to struggling families,” said Kim Trent, LEO deputy director for prosperity and key staffer to the Poverty Task Force. “Creating conditions that give every Michigander access to economic opportunity and prosperity is one of the most sacred duties of state government.”

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