Monique Stanton, the new CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy, has urged policymakers to take bold action to address poverty and inequality in the state. Stanton, who has extensive nonprofit leadership experience, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the challenges faced by millions of Michiganders who struggle to afford the basic necessities of life.
Poverty and well-being in Michigan
According to the latest Michigan Poverty and Well-Being Map released by the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions, about 14% of Michiganders were living in poverty and another 29% of households were struggling to make ends meet before the pandemic. The map also shows that poverty rates vary widely across the state, with some counties having more than 20% of their population living in poverty, while others have less than 10%.
The map also provides other indicators of well-being, such as health insurance coverage, food insecurity, child homelessness, and educational attainment. These indicators reveal that many Michiganders face multiple barriers to achieving economic security and opportunity. For example, 7.6% of students in Michigan have experienced homelessness by the time they reach fifth grade, and 31.7% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 35% nationally.
The impact of the pandemic and policy responses
The pandemic has worsened the situation for many low-income and working families in Michigan, as they have faced job losses, reduced hours, increased expenses, and health risks. However, some federal and state policies have helped mitigate the impact of the crisis and reduce poverty and hardship. These include the expanded federal Child Tax Credit, which has provided monthly payments to families with children, the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits, which have boosted the incomes of low-wage workers, and the federal stimulus payments, which have provided direct cash assistance to most households.
Stanton praised these policies for their positive effects, but also stressed the need to make them permanent and to invest in other areas that can help lift people out of poverty and improve their well-being. She said that the Michigan League for Public Policy, which is a nonpartisan policy organization that advocates for economic and social justice, will continue to work with policymakers and stakeholders to advance policies that can address the root causes and consequences of poverty and inequality in Michigan.
The priorities and vision of the Michigan League for Public Policy
Stanton, who took over as the CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy in January, said that she is honored and excited to lead the organization and to build on its 109-year history of fighting for the well-being of all Michiganders. She said that her vision is to make Michigan a state where everyone can thrive, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, age, or zip code.
Some of the priorities that Stanton and the Michigan League for Public Policy will focus on include increasing the state Earned Income Tax Credit to 30%, which has bipartisan support from the governor and the legislature, expanding access to affordable and quality health care, child care, and education, promoting racial equity and justice, and strengthening the social safety net and public services that support low-income and vulnerable populations.
Stanton said that she is optimistic about the future of Michigan and the potential for positive change, but also realistic about the challenges and complexities that lie ahead. She said that she hopes to engage with diverse partners and communities across the state, and to use data, research, and advocacy to inform and influence policy decisions that can make a difference in the lives of millions of Michiganders.