A major expansion to a tax credit that benefits working poor families got the backing of Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) and several other supportive groups during a legislative hearing Wednesday.
Taxpayers who qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) -- typically low-income individuals who are working -- would be able to claim 15% of their income tax as a state credit in 2022 under Senate Bill 417. That's up from the current 6%.
The bill -- sponsored by Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) would push that percentage all the way to 30% by 2025.
Right now, the benefit at 6% of the federal credit amounts to an average of $150 per claim. The proposed legislation would increase average claims to nearly $1,000.
During the hearing on the bill in the Senate Finance Committee this week, MCC told lawmakers expanding the EITC in Senate Bill 417 would help get people back to work, alleviate poverty and help families in a cost-effective and efficient way.
MCC noted that in most cases, the credit is used for expenses associated with having children. Co-pays, groceries, and many other costs associated with being a parent are some of the main expenses for which the credit helps pay.
The EITC also honors the dignity of work -- a core tenet of Catholic social teaching -- and helps to lift families out of poverty. MCC has long advocated for the EITC and welcomed its creation back in 2006.
Other groups that joined MCC in supporting an increase to the EITC include the Food Bank Council of Michigan, the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, the Small Business Association of Michigan, and more.
The committee took testimony only on the bill, but MCC will continue to monitor its progress.
A series of bills aimed at reducing unnecessary incarceration cleared a Senate committee this week.
House Bills 4149, 4151, and 4152 would reclassify several fishing and hunting misdemeanors as civil infractions, so individuals who commit the violations would receive civil fines rather than jail time.
A new version of House Bill 4152 considered this week added several more fishing and hunting misdemeanors to the list of those that would become civil infractions.
MCC supported these measures to ensure Michiganders are not forever criminalized and to offer judges more discretion to determine the appropriate response to a crime.
The bills this week were approved by the Senate Natural Resources Committee and now head to the full Senate for further consideration.
The legislation is sponsored by Representatives John Damoose (R-Harbor Springs), Steven Johnson (R-Wayland), and Gary Howell (R-North Branch).
On Wednesday the Catholic Church celebrated the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary, under her title as the Immaculate Conception, is the patron saint of the United States. With that in mind, join us in praying for our country:
"Most Holy Trinity, we put the United States of America into the hands of Mary Immaculate in order that she may present the country to you. Through her we wish to thank you for the great resources of this land and for the freedom which has been its heritage. Through the intercession of Mary, have mercy on the Catholic Church in America. Grant us peace. Have mercy on our President and on all the officers of our government. Grant us a fruitful economy born of justice and charity. Have mercy on capital and industry and labor. Protect the family life of the nation. Guard the precious gift of many religious vocations. Through the intercession of our mother, have mercy on the sick, the poor, the tempted, sinners--on all who are in need."