Legislation which closes 12,600 public assistance cases, affecting 25,000 children, is making its way through the Michigan House and Senate.
Gilda Jacobs, a former state legislator and the current Director of the Michigan League for Human Services (an independent human services "watch dog" agency in Lansing) reminds us that the maximum grant for a family of three is $492 per month. Many families who receive cash assistance work, but can't find employment that will pay them enough to survive without these grants.
In a recent article Ms. Jacobs tries to inform anyone who will listen and act. She says, "These bills have passed the House and Senate in different forms and have yet to be finalized…Our policy makers are trying to save 774 million dollars through this action which will have devastating effects …That means 25,000 children and their parents – enough to fill Comerica Park – would lose an important source of income."
"This is only the beginning. Each year thousands more will reach the 48 month limit of assistance and will lose their cash assistance forever regardless of their life situation. The Senate bill creates an exemption for parents who can't work because they are caring for a disabled parent or child. The House does not have this exemption."
We agree with Ms. Jacobs. Our economy is in crisis. Economic forecasts have spiraled downward in the past few weeks. The worst may be yet to come. This is especially true for the working class in this country. While the federal government talks about hacking away at the safety nets of Medicare and Social Security, at the State level the safety nets of Medicaid and cash assistance are disappearing. There has already been a 70% cut in the earned income tax credit and elimination of the back to school clothing allowance for 12,400 children.
This will be devastating to the majority of Americans, certainly to the most vulnerable among us. Cutting benefits right now to the working poor, the elderly and children is the wrong thing to do. We urge Governor Snyder and our senators and representatives to remember us, the people.