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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Michigan's poor set to lose cash assistance Nov. 1st, state jobless statistics frozen since August

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Just in time for Christmas, Michigan’s cuts to its cash assistance program are back on board up to 40,000 members of the states’ poorest families after U.S. District Judge Paul Borman “flip-flop in a earlier ruling on the case. 
The decision will impact all individuals who received cash assistance benefits up to 48 months lifetime in Michigan.
Justice Borman on October 14th stated that the new notices sent out this week by the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) provided enough warning and information to the families originally scheduled to lose their cash assistance benefits on October 1st.
The revised notices "satisfy the due process concerns," Borman wrote in his ruling.
A class action was filed in September by cash-assistance recipients facing the loss of  monthly allotments. Justice Borman ruled earlier this month that the state had to continue paying benefits since a poor job was done with notifying families that cash assistance benefits would end October 1st.
Complying with Justice Borman's originally ruling, state officials sent out new notices last week including information on new state law passed by Republican super-majorities in Michigan Legislative House and Senate and by Gov.Rick Snyder (R) that authorized ending of benefits.
Details on how recipients could appeal the termination of cash benefits payments were added into the second mailing.
"We will continue to move forward with our outreach to these recipients," said Maura Corrigan, director of the state Department of Human Resources.
Jacqueline Doig, an attorney for the cash assistance recipients suing the state, said she was disappointed and doesn’t plan to appeal the case.
"It's our intent to continue working with the families and making sure that nobody is terminated who is eligible for the benefits," she stated to the Detroit Free Press.
"But people are very frightened about what will happen with their families and how they're going to make ends meet," she cited.
Other state private assistance agencies are facing deep cuts. Michigan’s Republican controlled state House and Senate have yet to date, to re-allocate funding for winter heating assistance, homeless shelters or food banks revenue shares for programs like the Salvation Army or The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW).
The 11,162 families represent about 40,000 people, two-thirds of whom are teenagers and children will be impacted November 1st. Before the law was passed in July, Michigan used the federal 60-month limit, but the state had many exceptions that allowed families to remain on assistance longer.
The bill ending the benefits was designed, according to state Republicans and Gov. Rick Snyder to balance the state's budget. 
A $1.8 Billion dollar tax cut to Michigan’s C & S corporations signed into law earlier this year, was also touted by the states’ conservative legislative majority, as a effort to “balance the budget” and add jobs to the state. 
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Michigan's unemployment rate which stands at 11.2%, marks four straight months of increases within Gov. Snyder's first year in office. 
Ironically, Michigan's unemployment statistics from the Michigan's Department of Technology, Management and Budget as not been updated since August 2011 (See graph to the left).

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