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Michigan's Social Safety Net Has Holes

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January 23, 2009

Lansing, MI - With Michigan's December unemployment rate stretching into double-digits, the concern now shifts to how well the state's safety nets are holding up.

The president and CEO of the Michigan League for Human Services, Sharon Parks, says the state's ability to help people has been compromised because of budget cuts. Parks hopes President Obama's economic stimulus package will be large enough to extend unemployment benefits and food assistance programs. She says those who need assistance should be taking advantage of those programs.

"People who qualify for unemployment should get that. They should find out what benefits they are eligible for in terms of food assistance. Tax filing season is coming up and there are a number of tax credits."

Parks says the public sector safety net hasn't fully recovered from cuts during previous down times.

"We made a lot of cuts in the early 90s and we haven't re-invested in programs. We just don't have the same level of help available that we had in other times like these."

Parks says the state needs to look at its revenue structure to be more prepared for the next recession and suggests that could include changes in income and sales taxes, as well as closing tax loopholes.

Tony Bruscato, Public News Service - MI