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Report: Corrections Budget = Incorrect Plan for Michigan

February 9, 2012

LANSING, Mich. - As Gov. Rick Snyder prepares to unveil his budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, he's under increased pressure to reform the state's corrections system and reinvest in programs and services that could keep people out of prison in the first place. A new report from the Michigan League for Human Services finds that the corrections budget, which currently uses up a quarter of the state's general fund, has increased nearly 30 percent over the past 10 years. At the same time, investments in public education, health care and employment opportunities have been decreasing.

Anika Fassia, a policy analyst with the Michigan League for Human Services, authored the report. She says the state's approach is shortsighted.

"We're moving away from long-term solutions that start at the beginning of life. We need to be investing in these economic security programs, not reducing them and then seeing our corrections budget get larger and larger and larger."

Michigan is one of just two states in the nation that spend more on corrections than on higher education.

Fassia says policy makers need to take a hard look at recent choices that she calls "cuts to opportunities" for children and families. Those include the decision to reduce the state's Earned Income Tax Credit by 70 percent, cuts in at-risk grants and special education, and the elimination of some job-training programs.

"When you're taking away these economic security programs that keep people living out of poverty, keep them in their jobs and put food on the table, you're not allowing them to prosper and give back to the community."

Attorney General Bill Schuette has proposed stricter sentencing guidelines that critics say could dramatically increase the cost of corrections, absorbing as much as half of the general fund.

The full report, "Corrections Budget, a Failure to Plan for the Future," is available at www.milhs.org.


Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI