Mich House Republicans vote to throw over 200K Michiganders off food assistance (& that’s only part of it)

“Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value”


Photo by Chris Savage/Eclectablog

Earlier today I wrote about the budget priorities of the Michigan House Democrats. In that piece I wrote, “In stark contrast to our far-right ideological Republicans and our corporatist Governor, the Democrats’ priorities reflect concern and care for middle class families, children and seniors. Their budget is a sincere reflection of their values.”

Little did I know that, just a few hours later, House Republicans would show their values. It’s a very ugly thing to behold.

The House Appropriations subcommittee voted along party lines to cut over 200,000 people from food assistance (FOOD ASSISTANCE!!!), to cut 1,000 jobs in the Department of Human Services, and proposed cuts to services for children and the disabled. As outraged as I’ve been over GOP overreach over the past two years, this move shows that Michigan Republicans are no longer pretending that they care about children, the poor, or any of the other groups that most need our collective help in this state.

Here’s the laundry list:

  • Over 1,000 workers, roughly 9% of the total staff, would be cut from the Department of Human Services, the state department that, among other things, handles welfare, food assistance and child abuse investigations
  • Cuts $108.6 million from Governor Snyder’s proposed budget
  • The three juvenile justice facilities in Escanaba, Grayling and Whitmore Lake would be shut down
  • 30 employees who work on permanent placement for children would be fired
  • 223 full time in employees in local DHS offices would be let go
  • $6.2 million in funds for the Pathways to Potential program would be cut
  • $683 million in food assistance funds would be eliminated which make 211,496 people ineligible for the program
  • $546,000 in disability assistance — gone
  • $15 million in foster care payments — eliminated, reducing the number of foster care cases by 550

These cuts are clearly going to put children at risk. Not only that, they may put the State of Michigan in legal jeopardy:

In 2006, New York-based Children’s Rights filed a class-action federal lawsuit. In it, the child welfare advocacy group accused the state of endangering children by trapping them in a system that failed to meet even basic needs. Ultimately, DHS agreed to a sweeping, multi-million dollar overhaul — still in force today and overseen by a federal court judge — that would, among other things, reduce caseloads in what most agreed had been an overwhelmed system.

The DHS has hired hundreds of new workers to meet that requirement.

Any cuts in child protection staff aren’t just a legal problem, Sara Bartosz, a Children’s Rights attorney, said.

“Reasonable case loads are absolutely essential to ensuring the safety of children in state care,” she said.

Democratic House Representative Rashida Tlaib, the minority vice chairwoman of the DHS budget subcommittee, was blunt:

We cannot afford to have any more children under our care killed or abused or neglected … These staff reductions and cuts to frontline workers will make it extremely difficult for the remaining workers to help these families and protect children from abuse and neglect. The DHS is finally beginning to comply with minimum standards set forth by the Children’s Rights Modified Settlement Agreement, but that work is not done, and cutting staff jeopardizes the progress that’s been made in protecting these vulnerable children. I fear these massive cuts to the protection of our most vulnerable children will come back to haunt us when the state struggles under increased caseloads. Michigan was sued due to these kinds of negligent actions by the Legislature in not ensuring the safety of neglected and abused children.

Democratic Representative Andrew Kandrevas called the proposal “a scorched-earth budget that harms families and the front-line workers who are trying to help them.”

Governor Snyder has, apparently, seen the House proposal. Rather than rejecting it outright as any true state leader who cares about his constituents would, he simply called them “part of the legislative process”. This budget proposal isn’t “part of the legislative process”, it’s a cold, heartless, and intentionally cruel approach a saving money to funnel into the coffers of their corporate benefactors. And it’s being done on the backs of children, the disabled, and the most needy citizens of our state.

  • gloriay

    This is a wake up call for everybody , Democrats, republicans, Independents and everyone else. This move will hurt everyone no only Democrats and Independents, but republicans too. Question. Are Michigan republicans and Independents prepared to go out and vote in November 2014, and to vote these heartless buffoons out of office? Do they have to prove anything else to the working class republicans and the poor republicans in Michigan that they do NOT care about them neither do they like them. If Michigan poor republicans do not go out and vote in November 2014 and vote your party out of office, well, please do not complain, you deserve what you get. Michigan House republicans have no conscience, no morals.

  • adownriverdiva

    Why wait til the next election, we can get them out of office right now!
    Better still, these jerks vote for things they don’t enforce, I mean some clerk, some worker somewhere is the one who actually cuts off, removes people from these programs.

    So, what if the rebellion starts with those workers refusing to do the bidding of the politicians?
    It’s the kind of resistance that Ghanhdi and MLK used, civil disobedience.
    A law only works if the people OBEY THAT LAW.
    WE are the ones doing the actually work, not the guys passing the laws.

    Ordinary clerks, workers, cops, firemen, teachers, we are the ones who make things happen.
    And we must not forget that.

    Martin Luther King said it our duty to refuse to obey unjust laws.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thomas.felton.186 Thomas Felton

    They don’t care what we the people want or say, just how much they can screw the people that need the help the most. They forget it is OUR HOUSE that they do this shit in. A revolt seems to be the norm in the future but hey they have it covered with drones, gun control, RTW, and ignoring laws enacted by the voters. If you don’t get it yet your blind.

  • Tim

    As a permanently disabled gentleman, I am outraged at the clear lack of compassion shown by ANY Republican leader! They are on a mission to get what they want, and to hell with anyone else and the ones that suffer the most? Children, Disabled and the elderly! This is absolutely uncalled for, total bullshit and I am prepared to stand up for my rights and start with Civil Disobediance march, if I have to do that! This is appalling and amounts to my individual rights being messed with and let me tell you, if this happens, I will be out doing all I can to stir up a ruckus and cause Civil Disobediance anywhere I can to get my point across! Go ahead Republicans….make my day!

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      Hah! You go, Tim! Love your ‘tude!

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  • watchtower54

    I dare any of these GOP baffoons to take the 9 week training and start at DHS with a caseload. With all the phone calls, policy changes, deadlines, and stress most workers can’t even use their accrued annual and sick time.
    Berger proclaimed that he was going to redistribute the highly paid Lansing based analysts to the front lines. That has not happened. These analysts have created their own caseload by micro-managing the front lines.
    As Michigan’s economy contines to tank, the front lines need more workers not less. BRIDGES has not created the panacea that was touted to do. The new SWSS system for Children’s services probably won’t either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.feaker.1 David Feaker

    I have (had) a friend who works for the Kent County DHS who on her FB account was belittleing (sp) all of the poor people coming for help, just flat out slamming them. She forgets that she herself is working on our dime for money and benefits, so I started saving what she was saying and than confronted her with what I saved and asked if she minded if I sent it to the state, esp as the time she was posting was on our taxpayer time at work. Well she unfriended me, hard to believe she spewed all her BS about the poor, all her hate about the welfare people yet recieves her welfare paycheck from the taxpayers and the benefits that goes with it yet will not defend her position when called out. I guess we get what we pay for

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Var-Enyo/100001058251205 Var Enyo

      She wasn’t your friend or anyone else’s. I knew people like that too and yes, we were paying for them. They will always stay willfully ignorant.

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      Send me screenshots and I’ll make her famous.

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  • Brittany Myers

    Get rid of this lying slimey POS Snake SNYDER and his band of thugs, I have had enough, he balanced his rainy day fund on the backs of children, the elderly, the poor and the working middle Class, Snyder you have sealed the fate of any moron with a R in front of his name from ever being elected in this State again. We learned the hard way, and We will ensure that NO GOP ever runs Michigan into the ground again. Get the hell out you lying corrupt snake.

  • jmg

    Interesting way to put it. I suppose fiscal responsibility means nothing to you, and I also suppose you believe that printing more money is equivalent to having more money. And the policies of the Democrats over the past 30-plus years have nothing to do with the demise of Detroit and its bankruptcy? I doubt that anybody is against food stamps or assistance of various sorts, but creating a permanent class of beggars is a poor method of charity. We have taught Detroiters to wait for “free stuff” instead of getting their house in order. The level of food stamp recipients on a state and national level is a disgrace that needs repair, not bolsering up.

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