Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I am most effective at my job when acting on your direct input. I encourage you to reach out to me and my staff with any questions, comments or concerns you may have regarding our community or state and with any policy ideas.
Please do not hesitate to reach out by phone at (517) 373-0853 or send an email to AngelaWitwer@house.gov.
State Representative, 71st House District
In This Issue:
- Upcoming Coffee Hours
- Fall Senior Fair
- In-District Update
- Legislative Update
- General Update
Upcoming Coffee Hours
Please join me for one of my virtual or in-person Weekly Wrap-ups With Witwer. You can find the event on my Facebook page. Please also like and follow my page to stay connected with updates from the Capitol. I look forward to seeing you at a coffee hour soon!
Upcoming Coffee Hours:
- 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 23, at Horrocks Beer (Coffee) Garden in Delta Township
- 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 30, at Delta Township District Library
- 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 7, at MorningLory Café and Bakery in Dimondale
Fall Senior Fair
Mark your calendars for our upcoming Fall Senior Fair on Healthy Aging on Saturday, Oct. 1, from 10 a.m. to noon. The event will be held at the Lansing Mall (in front of the old Macy’s) at 5330 W. Saginaw Highway. We will have a variety of senior resource booths, as well as some fun activities planned, including free giveaways. The Tri-County Office on Aging, Oasis Senior Advisors and AmeriCorp RSVP, along with other community organizations, will be participating. We hope to see you there!
September Teacher of the Month Nomination Form
Each month, I highlight one of our district’s teachers. Who among us hasn’t had a teacher who’s deeply affected our lives? We owe these exceptional teachers so much. The least that I can do is shine a spotlight on these heroes who give so much of themselves for their communities. So, please, nominate one of the wonderful teachers in our district for September’s Teacher of the Month here so we can celebrate all they do for our community.
September Small Business of the Month Nomination Form
If you own a business or know of a business that you think should be recognized for its outstanding service to the community and its customers, please fill out the form here. I look forward to reading your submissions and showcasing a new small business in our community for September!
Session & Committee
The House and a number of committees plan to meet Sept. 21 and 28.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Background
Until Oct. 31, the U.S. Department of Education is offering public servants working in government and eligible nonprofits a second chance to qualify for student loan forgiveness. An estimated 154,000 public service workers in Michigan could be eligible for student loan debt relief under the PSLF waiver. According to the Office of Federal Student Aid’s June report, over 6,000 Michiganders have taken advantage of the PSLF waiver and have had $358 million in loans forgiven.
The recent changes to the PSLF program allow previously ineligible borrowers — those with a non-direct loan, who are not enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan, who have missed a repayment or made a partial repayment in the past — receive credit toward loan forgiveness for the years they worked in government or a qualifying nonprofit.
To apply for the PSLF waiver, borrowers should:
- Click here to verify their employer qualifies for PSLF.
- Submit a certified copy of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Employment Certification form to the U.S. Department of Education before Oct. 31.
If borrowers have questions regarding their individual situation, they can click here or call FedLoan Servicing at (855) 265-4038.
Enroll 4-Year-Old Kids in Free Preschool Program
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Education are encouraging parents of 4-year-old children across Michigan to contact their local school districts or visit GreatStarttoQuality.org to explore getting their children enrolled in a Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) — Michigan’s nationally recognized, state-funded preschool for 4-year-olds.
In 2021, Gov. Whitmer announced a bold plan to expand GSRP to ensure more Michigan children could get a great start to a quality education. Last summer, she signed into law the largest expansion of GSRP in the state’s history — allowing Michigan to eliminate waiting lists and serve 22,000 additional 4-year-olds. This year, the governor continued to work with the Legislature to take the next step in expansion and help recruit enough teachers and classrooms to serve all eligible children.
The expansion of GSRP increases the opportunity for families to enroll their children in programs that will better prepare students for kindergarten. Children that attend GSRP are more likely to enter school ready to learn, read by third grade and graduate from high school on time.
The GSRP program meets all 10 quality benchmarks recommended by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), such as having teacher credentials, low staff-child ratios, smaller class sizes and a research-based curriculum.
Parents can apply for GSRP’s 2022-23 program year now! Parents can search for local GSRP programs through Michigan’s Great Start to Quality website or apply directly through their local intermediate school district here.
New Program to Help Entrepreneurs Open New Child Care Programs & Increase Availability of Affordable Care for Parents
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the new Our Strong Start program to make it easier for entrepreneurs to open new child care programs, get licensed faster and expand access to high-quality, affordable child care for working families. Our Strong Start, the latest step in the governor’s Caring for MI Future strategy, will be run by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ (LARA) Child Care Licensing Bureau and help entrepreneurs get licensed and secure grant funding to launch their business.
In addition to working one-on-one with entrepreneurs, the Our Strong Start team will host in person and virtual events to promote the child care industry and encourage individuals to consider a career in child care. The first virtual event, “How to Open a Successful Child Care Business in Michigan,” will be at noon on Sept. 15. Anyone considering a career in child care can register at www.michigan.gov/MIchildcare.
Expanding Access to Child Care
The Our Strong Start is part of a $1.4 billion investment to expand access to quality, affordable child care for families. To date, the governor has awarded over $700 million in grants, a record amount, to nearly 6,000 child care businesses, provided bonuses up to $1,000 for 38,000 child care professionals, and launched Caring for Mi Future — a $100 million strategy to open 1,000 new child care programs by the end of 2024.
Lowering Costs for Working Families
More families are eligible to receive help paying for child care than you might think. To help families know if they are likely to qualify, Gov. Whitmer partnered with the Michigan Department of Education and Early Childhood Investment Corporation to create an online eligibility calculator. Now families can know in less than two minutes if they could get help lower child care costs by visiting greatstarttoquality.org/calculator.
To qualify for the Child Development and Care Program (commonly called the child care subsidy), families must:
- Have a child under age 13.
- Need child care because they’re working or going to school.
- Have a qualifying income, up to:
- $36,620 for a family of two.
- $46,060 for a family of three.
- $55,500 for a family of four.
Families can visit Michigan.gov/childcare for a complete list of reasons they may qualify for low or no cost child care and for more information on qualifications for larger families.
Michiganders to Receive Additional Assistance in September to Lower Cost of Groceries
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced all Michigan families who are eligible for food assistance benefits will continue to receive at least an additional $95 monthly payment in September to help lower the cost of groceries and ensure Michiganders can keep more of their hard-earned money. The additional assistance will help more than 1.3 million Michiganders in more than 700,000 households.
Eligible families do not need to re-apply to receive the additional benefits. People who receive food assistance can check their benefits balance on their Michigan Bridge Card by going online to www.michigan.gov/MIBridges or calling a consumer service representative toll-free at (888) 678-8914. They can ask questions about the additional benefits by calling or emailing their caseworker.
Customer service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Spanish and Arabic service is available. If you are deaf, deafblind, or hard of hearing or speech-impaired, call the Michigan Relay Center at 7-1-1.