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March 25, 2022

Podcast: State of the State talks refugees, economy and redistricting

The Institute for Public Policy and Social Research hosts its monthly State of the State podcast.

This month’s podcast features host Arnold Weinfeld, IPPSR associate director; Matt Grossmann, IPPSR director; Charles Ballard, MSU economist; and special guest Ben Cabanaw, state refugee coordinator in the State of Michigan Office of Global Michigan.

According to Cabanaw, the state is watching for more updates after announcements that the U.S. will accept up to 100,000 refugees fleeing the fighting in Ukraine. Show participants predicted the conflict in Ukraine will likely have lingering economic effects and traced legal questions about redistricting as statewide candidates file for 2022 elections.

“It’s rightfully been on everyone’s minds,” said Cabanaw.

“We can always find that Michigan is quite connected to events that occur all over the world,” said Grossmann.

Michigan is a welcoming state, Cabanaw said, and his office within the state Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity works with local health, education and nonprofit agencies to resettle refugees into new housing, schools and employment.

Between last fall and this spring, his office helped Michigan to welcome about 1,800 refugees from Afghanistan and provides ongoing support services to about 3,000 people each year, he said. 

"Public and media interest ebbs and flows with each international crisis posing, a challenge for continuing refugee support," Cabanaw added. “We try to use this moment to educate and advocate. Michigan is traditionally a welcoming state and provides a lot of support for the programming that we do."

Michigan’s Legislature is also settling the state’s budget with tax cut proposals as a better-than-expected economy and federal pandemic relief funds yield surplus state finances. 

“The recession caused by COVID turned out not to be as severe as many of us feared,” Ballard said. He cautioned the state will still need to pay its bills should tax cuts be too generous. “Once you cut a tax, it’s hard to bring it back,” he added.

With balanced budgets required in nearly every state, states have funds to cut taxes and increase spending at the same time, Grossmann said.  “They’re good times to be a state legislator or governor. You have lots of goodies to give out, some from the federal government and some from unexpected surpluses.”

Candidates for variety of statewide offices are filing now for upcoming political party conventions and primary votes under new election districts. While state courts and the U.S. Supreme Court are now ruling on legal redistricting challenges, Michigan’s early filings indicate candidates expect to run under the new district boundaries, Grossmann said. 

The Institute for Public Policy and Social Research is a part of the College of Social Science at Michigan State University. It specializes in policy education, leadership training and survey research. 

IPPSR is the home of the Michigan Political Leadership Program, the Office for Survey Research, State of the State Survey, Legislative Leadership Program, Rosenthal Legislative Internship Program, more than 60 affiliate faculty members, student policy fellows and major research databases on topics of interest to academic researchers, legislators, policy makers, elected leaders and journalists around the world. 

IPPSR’s monthly State of the State Podcast is broadcast with the assistance of WKAR Radio along with radio stations on the air and over the internet, on SoundCloud and ITunes. Find IPPSR on social media @IPPSR on Twitter and Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) on Facebook.

MSU Today airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 5 a.m. on WKAR News/Talk and Sundays at 8 p.m. on 760 WJR. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.

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