Program: Demonstration projects

Appropriation:

Federal Funds:

$5,257,800

Special Revenue Funds:

$1,419,300

GF/GP:

$1,127,000

Total:

$7,804,100

Program Description:

This appropriation funds the demonstration projects of the department. The allocation for this program is distributed to a wide variety of new pilot programs being considered for continue use. Past programs have included:

  • Adopt-a-House, which funds the renovation and repair of homes occupied by low-income families in Grand Traverse County.

  • Independent Living Program, which counsels youths 16 years of age and older who are in foster care, or who have been in foster care, as they exit the child welfare services system.

Recommended Action:

The state should eliminate this program. Michigan’s civil society — which includes individuals, nonprofits, religious organizations, businesses and fraternal organizations — works to help people in need and will continue to do so.

These private human welfare service providers could do a great deal more if government did not: a) crowd them out with programs of its own; b) take from citizens the very money (in taxes) they might otherwise contribute to these organizations; and c) engage in charity that requires nothing of the recipient.

Michigan’s government should step aside and allow charitable organizations to do the work they are most qualified to do. This would not only be of the greatest help to the poor; it also would revitalize community life by giving those more fortunate the opportunity to take personally the task of caring for their less fortunate neighbors. Savings: $7,804,100. Governor Granholm’s 2005 proposal decreases the gross appropriation to $6,773,500.

Program: Commission on disability concerns

Appropriation:

Federal Funds:

$565,100

Special Revenue Funds:

$33,000

GF/GP:

$346,100

Total:

$944,200

Program Description:

This appropriation funds the commission on disability concerns. The commission staff provides training, advocacy, information and technical assistance on issues affecting individuals with disabilities.

Recommended Action:

The state should eliminate this program. Michigan’s civil society — which includes individuals, nonprofits, religious organizations, businesses and fraternal organizations — works to help people in need and will continue to do so.

Many of the most effective organizations operate without government funds and often hire and train disabled people at their own expense, and without fanfare. Some nonprofits that provide services to the disabled raise most of their money privately.

For instance, Goodwill Industries of West Michigan, Inc., a workforce development agency with a network of not-for-profit businesses whose mission is to provide work opportunities and skill development for people with barriers to employment, raises most of its money privately. With headquarters in Muskegon, and serving an 11-county area including Lake, Manistee, Mason, Newaygo, and Oceana, along with portions of Montcalm, Osceola, Mecosta, Kent and Ottawa, Goodwill has a long, successful history of providing vocational rehabilitation and employment services for people with disabilities and other special needs. The agency was founded in 1950 to meet the employment needs of persons with disabilities. Throughout the decades, Goodwill has maintained its focus on its mission while changing and improving services to meet the new and emerging needs of the diverse population it serves. [10] Savings: $944,200. Governor Granholm’s 2005 proposal increases the gross appropriation to $969,100.

Program: Commission for the blind

Appropriation:

Federal Funds:

$13,123,800

Special Revenue Funds:

$640,000

GF/GP:

$3,697,400

Total:

$17,461,200

Program Description:

The appropriation funds seven different programs: the commission for the blind, administration, rehabilitation, the business enterprise program, center for independent living, youth low vision, and client assistance program.

Recommended Action:

The state should eliminate this program. Michigan’s civil society — which includes individuals, nonprofits, religious organizations, businesses and fraternal organizations — works to help people in need and will continue to do so.

The commission for the blind is focused primarily on only one handicap — poor vision/blindness. Nonprofits already exist to serve the blind population and would no doubt work to expand their services if the opportunity presented itself. Consider just one Michigan nonprofit as an example of a civil society institution that caters to some needs of the blind and their loved ones.

Livonia’s Seedlings Braille Books for Children is dedicated to increasing the opportunity for literacy among the blind. Seedlings provides high-quality, low-cost Braille books for blind children so that blind and sighted family members may read together. The books are for toddlers and preschoolers and allow early exposure to words through the tactile page as sighted family members read the print. Print-and-Braille books are for beginning readers and allow parents’ input into the early reading process. Seedlings’ Braille-only books offer popular and classic literature. World Book Encyclopedia articles also are offered in Braille for students. Since 1984, Seedlings has placed over 109,000 braille books and articles into the hands of blind children throughout the United States and Canada. Seedlings has received the 1999-2000 Literacy Agency of the Year Award from Wayne County Reading Council and relies on approximately 50 active volunteers to translate, proofread and deliver its books. There is no reason to think that this organization, and others like it, couldn’t increase the roles it plays in the lives of Michigan’s sightless. Savings: $17,461,200. Governor Granholm’s 2005 proposal increases the gross appropriation to $17,697,400.