MONDAY, JULY 27, 2009
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Senate Must Act Now as New Report Shows Michigan Families Under Great Stress
As foreclosures, job losses rise, Senate still won’t help unemployed families

LANSING – As a new report showed Michigan families are now the 2nd most economically stressed in the nation, a citizens group today called on the Senate to end months of delays on aid to hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop has refused to take action on accepting $138 million in federal unemployment funds available to more than a quarter million Michigan citizens who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

“Michigan families are on the edge of the cliff and about to fall off,” Progress Michigan Executive Director David Holtz said. “The Senate can either throw them a line that’s available right now or keep stonewalling while more Michigan families go over the cliff. The Senate has an opportunity to help Michigan families facing the worst economy since the Great Depression. Instead, the Senate is doing nothing while Michigan families suffer.”

According to the Associated Press Economic Stress Index, Michigan is second only to California in May in highest unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates. Of Michigan’s 83 counties, 80 counties reported high levels of economic stress.
With 740,000 people in Michigan out of work, more people are losing their homes each month and there’s little demand from buyers, according to published reports. The state has the nation’s seventh-highest foreclosure rate, with more than 13,600 filings in June, according to RealtyTrac Inc. Housing prices in the Detroit area have fallen 24 percent in the past year, under the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, and have dropped 56 percent since late 2005, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Meanwhile, the Senate continues to refuse approving measures that would make $138 million in federal support funds available to more than a quarter million Michigan citizens who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. The Michigan House has already approved the distribution of the federal funds, which will help families get back on their feet and laid-off workers get the retraining they need to get new 21st century jobs.

Eleven states with lower unemployment rates than Michigan have passed legislation that would qualify them for the funds that the Obama Administration had swiftly made available to the states to help their unemployed workers. The 11 states have also embraced extended benefits for retraining and worker assistance. They include Georgia, Iowa and Oregon.

The Senate has also refused to act on other measures that would bring relief to Michigan families, including closing unfair tax loopholes that do not create jobs or generate investments in local communities and strong government reform measures to increase accountability to citizens.


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