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Think Tank Offers Guidance to Keep Michigan Strong

The economic strains on workers stand to last long after the coronavirus outbreak is under control. (Adobe Stock)
The economic strains on workers stand to last long after the coronavirus outbreak is under control. (Adobe Stock)
April 6, 2020

LANSING, Mich. -- As state leaders assess the evolving challenges created by the COVID-19 outbreak, some policy analysts want to do their part to help keep Michigan residents healthy and financially stable.

Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy, says the coronavirus pandemic has brought to light issues such as the need for paid leave and better access to health care.

She says these policy matters are in the league's wheelhouse.

"As we navigate during this crisis, this is really the time for us to step back and say, 'What kinds of systems changes do we need to make so that we -- as a state and as a nation -- can be more prepared for, God forbid, the next time something like this happens?'" she states.

The league has a new series of policy briefs examining families' various needs through the lens of the pandemic, including child care, housing, and paid family leave.

Jacobs says the recommendations build upon Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's actions to support workers and small businesses, as well as the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act and CARES Act.

Jacobs says unemployment insurance and access to health care are among the short-term needs for most Michigan families. And she contends stakeholders also need to examine the responsibilities of government moving forward.

"When the safety net was unraveled, methodically and systematically, by people who've been in office over the years, the idea was the faith communities, nonprofits, the foundation world can pick up these responsibilities," she states. "Well, we're finding out that that's just not enough. They're all affected by this as well."

Michigan lawmakers will soon be charged with distributing billions of dollars in federal relief, however Jacobs notes the relief is limited in scope and time. She says the state should prepare its own finances to help meet the longer-term needs of communities.

"We need to really be making some major changes in rural Michigan, too, in terms of access for folks for all of these different areas -- food, child care, housing, broadband -- things that are really coming to light right now," she stats.

The policy briefs are online at mlpp.org, along with resources on COVID-19.

Disclosure: Michigan League for Public Policy/KIDS COUNT contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI