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Advocates vow to fight for direct care pay increase after state House committee nixes it in budget

Sarah Sutherlin and Carmela Palamara
Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press

Advocates say they're still confident that a $2.25 pay increase for direct care workers will be included in next year's budget.

That's even though the state House Appropriations Committee did not approve an amendment for the pay increase on Wednesday.

Direct care workers take care of Michigan's most vulnerable adults, who are elderly or have disabilities or mental illness, often in the adults' homes.

Robert Stein is with the Michigan Assisted Living Association. He says many people could lose their caregivers if the pay bump doesn't stay in place.

"This premium pay increase that we've had since April 1st, 2020, has been a lifesaver in at least maintaining a stable workforce," says Stein. "It's hard to even envision what the system would look like if this funding is not provided next year."

Stein says the pay increase is a good start but it's not enough for the long term.

Michigan has a serious shortage of direct care workers in large part due to the low wages and no benefits.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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