LANSING – State Representative Brian Banks (D-Harper Woods) was able to amend the Department of Human Services budget in subcommittee, where he serves as minority vice chair, to increase funds for indigent burials and ensure that there are other items in the budget that were held harmless which will help Michigan families.
“Many times my office receives calls from constituents who are in need of assistance for the costs associated with a funeral for their loved one,” said Banks. “I understand that during these economic times many families are challenged and not able to afford life insurance. Often times they rely on other sources such as state aid for assistance.”
“I am pleased that committee members approved my amendment to increase indigent burial funds by $100,000,” said Banks. “This means that the state has $4.4 million to help communities provide this critical service.”
Funding for the indigent burial program has fallen from a high of $6.9 million in fiscal year 2007-08. The program has fluctuated between $4 million and $4.3 million since then, including an increase from $4 million in FY 2012-13 to $4.3 million in FY 2013- 14, where remained for FY 2014-15. Banks also pointed out that counties were held harmless on foster and child care funding that the state provides. This ensures that in a time when local revenues are tight for many communities, they will not be faced with the additional hardship of finding more money to support these foster and child care programs. However, after meeting with many foster and child care providers, Banks was able to further understand the concern of the agencies and all the resources and services they provide. As a result, Banks was able to offer substantive feedback and insight during the March 17 DHS subcommittee hearing and recommended that rates remain at current funding levels
Banks was also pleased to see that the subcommittee went against the governor’s recommended cuts to foster care rates. The governor would have cut rates by reducing private residential foster care payments. After Banks’ recommendation and hearing testimony, the subcommittee retained the current rate of 100 percent reimbursement. The House also keeps the private agency daily reimbursement rate at $40, which would have been reduced to $37 dollars in the governor’s recommended budget.
“I am glad that we were at least able to preserve some programs that help families and children,” said Banks. “There is still time to improve the DHS budget, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to craft a budget that answers the needs of Michigan’s families.”