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700,000 low-income families could get checks under Senate bill

Mathieu Turle

Roughly 700,000 Michigan families that claim the state earned income tax credit could get checks in the mail later this year. The state Senate adopted a bill Thursday to fix a problem created by a political fight between Republicans and Democrats.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill last month that dramatically expanded the Michigan earned income credit from 6% of the similar federal income tax credit to 30%.

But the bill she signed cannot take effect before next year. That was due to the failure of a procedural motion in the Legislature that requires super-majorities. Republicans withheld votes because Democrats included in the bill sending money to a controversial business development fund.

So without that motion to put the bill into effect right away, those families have to wait.

“It affects the welfare and well-being of over a million children in our state,” said state Senator Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City). She sponsored the bill to fix that problem. It would send a direct one-time payment to every family that had claimed the lower credit. That could mean as much as $2,080 dollars to a family of four.

Senator Joseph Bellino (R-Monroe) said the families that need the help deserved better from their state elected officials.

“I see an opportunity to help low-income Michiganders support their families and improve their lives,” he said. “But I am frustrated at how long it has taken to get this over the finish line despite repeated bipartisan votes.”

Monique Stanton is the president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy, which advocates for human services. She said this would mean significant help for low-income families.

“It’s a common-sense move that means the average family would see their tax credit grow from $150 to $749 this year, and would boost Michigan’s economy by more than $440 million annually,” she said in a written statement.

She said this fixes a problem created in 2011, when then-Governor Rick Snyder and a Republican-led Legislature adopted a tax overhaul that included cutting the EITC to pay for lowering business taxes.

The bill now goes to the state House.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.