With a stagnant economy and a job market still in turmoil, Michigan is searching for ways to cut its budget. But the government is attempting to salvage the state economy at the expense of Michigan’s low-income citizens. In November, the state will take away cash assistance from likely 41,000 people and this past July, the state passed a law limiting residents to 48 months of welfare eligibility. The state government needs to make cuts in a way that spreads the burden among all residents and does not target one group specifically.
Recent cuts to social welfare programs have raised the question of whether the money saved is worth the potential harm that could come to Michigan residents.
The cuts resulted in large reductions in funding for food banks and soup kitchens. Food banks and soup kitchens provide an invaluable service to communities and residents. Many of these organizations are already facing massively reduced resources, often preventing them from meeting the needs of their area. Organizations that feed the hungry are important resources for Michigan’s most struggling residents, and it’s crucial that they are properly funded.
Another $62 million was also cut from the funding of agencies like the Salvation Army and the Heat and Warmth Fund. The majority of that money was supposed to be used to fund heating and other utilities for low-income residents during the winter months.
Michigan has one of the highest state unemployment rates in the country with more than 11 percent of its citizens out of work. Though this number has decreased in recent years, there are many residents throughout the state who are struggling to make ends meet, and cuts to welfare programs penalize the state’s most disenfranchised citizens. The decision to reduce funding to programs designed to aid low-income families and unemployed Michigan residents could not be coming at a worse time.
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s economic plan touts tax cuts for businesses that could ultimately create jobs and help rebuild the economy. But in order to balance the loss in revenue from reduced corporate income taxes, welfare programs that help feed Michigan families and allow them to stay in their homes are losing funding. While the state needs to cut spending somewhere, taking away funds from the less fortunate is not the way to do it.
The best way for the thousands of struggling Michigan residents to get back on their feet is through aid and education. It’s clear the government cannot continue to operate with such a large budget, and cuts will have to be made. But rather than making massive cuts from programs that help Michigan’s struggling residents, the government should make smaller cuts across the board.
The prosperity of Michigan’s low-income residents will ultimately contribute to the economic health of the state as a whole. Rather than being downsized, programs that give aid and support to residents who are struggling need to be properly funded, so they can continue to give help to those who need it.