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Politics & Government

Group says state leaves federal money for low-income people on the table

Michigan Legislature votes to ban local food, beverage taxes
Flickr user Liz West / Flickr
Jacobs said Legislature was "penny wise and pound foolish" in neglecting to add $3 million to the "heat and eat" program in the new state budget.

An advocacy group for low-income people has been going over the new state budget. The Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP) found some good things in the budget, and a whole lot of federal money left on the table.

Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the MLPP, started with the good things:

“First off, we were very happy to see the funding included for Flint for the services that are needed to address this lead exposure crisis,” she said. “And in particular, we were very pleased to see dental coverage expanded to over 130,000 low-income kids in Wayne, Oakland and Kent counties, something we’ve been pushing for for a long, long time.”

But not all programs the MLPP has pushed for were winners in the new budget. The state chose to pull about $3 million it initially planned on providing to the "heat and eat" program, which helps low-income people meet payments for food and utilities.

"What makes us unhappy is just for $3.1 million, which would cover about 150 households, it would bring $137 million in federal SNAP dollars back into the state," Jacobs said. "So I really feel the Legislature was kind of penny wise and pound foolish."

To learn more about the "heat and eat" program and what the $3 million would have accomplished, listen above.

“We’re hoping that when the Legislature comes back that the Legislature will rethink this, put this into a supplemental and still spend that $3 million,” Jacobs said.

GUEST Gilda Jacobs is president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.