New Michigan Budget Expands Cheaper Child Care

Boy in short sleeve shirt writing name with brunette woman next to him at a desk

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer welcomed the expansion of free or low-cost child care to 105,000 more kids via the expanded income eligibility criteria in the latest bipartisan budget.

Families of four earning up to $49,000 will be eligible for free or low-cost child care under new criteria, helping parents return to work 

“We need to continue working hard to drive down costs for families and expand access to high-quality, affordable childcare so parents can go to work knowing that their kids are safe and learning,” Whitmer said in a statement. “I was proud to put childcare first in the bipartisan budget I signed in September. Together, we lowered costs for working families by expanding low or no-cost care to 105,000 kids and providing grants to improve childcare programs and empower childcare professionals. Countless working parents rely on childcare, and we must continue expanding high-quality care to help every working family thrive.”

Read More

Lumber Demand Drives Georgia Home Prices Higher

A beige house in a suburban community during the day

A spike in lumber prices has compounded the state’s housing crisis, Georgia housing advocates said.

The price of lumber increased by 300% this spring compared with the same time last year, reports show. The building material reached an all-time high of $1,515 per thousand board feet on May 28.

The price of oriented strand board, which is most often used for sheathing, has increased by 400% since last spring.

Read More

Chauvin Trial Overtime Cost Nearly $3 million

Derek Chauvin

Ramped-up security during the three weeks of Derek Chauvin’s trial cost taxpayers nearly $3 million, the Minneapolis Police Department said Thursday.

Citing unexpected costs, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo asked the Minneapolis City Council for an additional $5 million.

The MPD has 632 sworn officers, down from 845 one year ago — a 25% drop — to protect the 425,000-person city that’s fighting spiking violent crime.

Read More

After National Criticism, Whitmer’s Campaign to Pay for Florida Flight

Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Months after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer flew on a secret trip to Florida, Michiganders are starting to find answers.

Whitmer’s campaign committee will pay for her March Florida flight to visit her father after she initially attempted to use a nonprofit to charter the flight through a separate company.

The flight sparked an Federal Aviation Agency investigation, because the jet company was not authorized to operate charter flights.

Read More

Republicans Release Plan to Address Growing Inflation Under Biden Administration

High gas prices

Congressional Republicans grabbed headlines this week after releasing an aggressive budget they say would cut taxes and spending, but key measures in the plan also would address one of the country’s most serious economic problems.

The House’s Republican Study Committee released a budget that lays out several measures to deal with inflation, a growing concern among economists after the latest federal data showed a spike in consumer prices. Notably, the index for used cars and trucks rose 10%, the largest one-month increase since BLS began recording the data in 1953. Food and energy costs rose 0.9% in the month of April, prescription drugs rose 0.5%, and gasoline rose 1.4% during the same month. The energy cost index rose 25% in the previous 12 months.

Republicans on the committee say their plan would address concerns over inflation by balancing the budget within five years, thereby eliminating the need to monetize debt, a process where the federal government prints money to make payments on what it owes. The national debt has soared to more than $28 trillion and is expected to continue climbing under President Joe Biden’s new spending plans.

Read More

Minnesota Bipartisan Bill Aims to Reduce Prescription Drug Costs

A bipartisan bill claims it would reduce the cost of prescription drug costs to save taxpayers a potential millions – if not billions – of dollars.

Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, held a Friday news conference with Rep. Mike Howard, D-Richfield, highlighting the bill

SF 2178 would allow the state to share bid information submitted by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) for public employee contracts. The reverse auction process incentivizes PBMs to compete against each other by submitting lower offers in bidding rounds to win a contract, which is meant to achieve cost savings without impacting the quality of state health benefit plans.

Read More

Michigan House Unanimously Expands FOIA to Include Governor and Legislature

The Michigan House unanimously passed a flurry of bipartisan bills seeking to reform the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by including the governor and legislature under the new Legislative Open Records Act (LORA).

The House passed the package during “Sunshine Week,” which celebrates government transparency, and after reporters used FOIA to expose Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration gifting $253,000 in secret, taxpayer-funded  severance packages.

The bill package is virtually identical to bills introduced in the 2015-16, 2017-8, and the 2019-20 legislative session other than technical changes and effective dates.

Those packages all failed.

Read More

Ohio Prosecutors Support Bill to Force Convicted Rioters to Pay for Damages

Last summer, millions of dollars in taxpayer money were spent in response to protests that turned violent throughout Ohio. A bill proposed in the Ohio Senate looks to make sure those responsible will pay for it.

Senate Bill 41, currently being discussed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, calls for restitution from those who are convicted of property damage during riots, including vandalism. The restitution would pay the expenses of police and emergency crews who have to respond to riots. The bill also allows the government to take possession of any property left behind by those who end up convicted.

State Senator Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, is sponsoring the bill. Lou Tobin, the Executive Director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, offered his support before the committee recently.

Read More

Governor Mike DeWine Declares a State of Emergency 20 Ohio Counties

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine formally called for a state of emergency Thursday in counties across Ohio. The decision was made in response to excessive rainfall that resulted in severe flooding in 20 separate counties. According to the Emergency Proclamation, from Feb. 5th to Feb. 13th “Severe storms and excessive rainfall resulting…

Read More

Average Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner Drops to Lowest Price Since 2010

by Hanna Bogorowski   The American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual survey on the price of traditional Thanksgiving foods revealed a drop in the average price of dinner for families. “Since 2015, the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner has declined steadily and is now at the lowest level since 2010,” AFBF…

Read More