Peter Ruark

Peter Ruark

Peter Ruark has worked at the Michigan League for Public Policy since 2001 and currently serves as a Senior Policy Analyst. He specializes in public policy related to adult skill enhancement, college financial aid, job quality, public assistance and corrections. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and psychology from Calvin College and a Master of Social Work with a concentration in policy, planning and administration from Western Michigan University.


Column: Michigan’s cash assistance program is failing to reach families in need

By: - February 13, 2023

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, the year Republican Gov. Rick Snyder took office, an average of 79,660 Michigan families per month received cash assistance through the Family Independence Program (FIP). Eleven years later, in 2022, only 11,947 families received it. What happened? First, let us not think for a second that this had to do […]


Column: Non-compete agreements are unfair to workers

By: - January 31, 2023

Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission proposed a rule prohibiting employers from requiring employees to abide by noncompete agreements as a condition of employment.  The practice of requiring employees to sign a noncompete agreement is not new, but was traditionally required of higher-paid employees to prevent them from taking clients, trade secrets and resources […]


Column: Limiting SNAP flexibility is the wrong approach to supporting workers

By: - March 2, 2022

As I first wrote about in the Michigan Advance in May, workforce challenges that have arisen during the pandemic have led to a perceived labor shortage.  However, rather than acknowledging and addressing the wage, workplace and family conditions impacting our current job climate, some policymakers are instead looking for a public program to blame. The […]


Column: The Legislature needs to strengthen unemployment insurance, not weaken it

By: - June 21, 2021

COVID-altered life in Michigan continues to reveal the inadequacy of many of our state’s social policies and safety net systems, and a new report from the Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP) demonstrates how Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance policies are falling short in providing an adequate and effective safety net for unemployed workers. The Michigan Legislature […]


Peter Ruark: Unemployment Insurance is not to blame for the so-called labor shortage

By: - May 25, 2021

We’ve all seen the recent news coverage and memes going around about some businesses’ struggles finding workers right now. A coworker of mine even said one local fast food restaurant was putting mini-job applications in with every drive-thru order. But while this is certainly a very real issue right now as Michigan and the rest […]


Column: Finally, Michigan offers financial aid to older students

By: - February 15, 2021

This month, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the launch of Michigan Reconnect, a financial aid program that pays for two years of community college for Michigan residents 25 years or older. This is in addition to Futures for Frontliners, a program to offer free tuition for essential workers that launched in September and has accepted […]


Column: Trump’s insufficient unemployment benefits order will hurt Michigan

By: - August 18, 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Michigan and the rest of the country, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer acted quickly to try to slow its spread and keep people safe. She signed a series of executive orders that required all except the most essential workers to stay home and all except the most essential businesses to temporarily close […]


Column: Workers need protection during the pandemic — on and off the job

By: - June 19, 2020

This has been a difficult last couple of months in Michigan as businesses have had to close and residents and families have had to practice social distancing. While technology enables some workers to work from home, for very many workers, this has not been an option.  From the week ending March 23 through the week […]


Column: The 1990s are over. Remove Michigan’s felony drug ban on public assistance.

By: - July 19, 2019

Since 1996, federal law has prohibited individuals with felony drug convictions and their families from receiving cash assistance from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or food assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  This ban was put into place at a time when “welfare reform” and “getting tough on drug crimes” were popular political […]


Peter Ruark: It’s time to eliminate ‘debtor’s jail’ and pass bail reform

By: - March 27, 2019

The Michigan League for Public Policy first began in 1912 as the Michigan Conference of Charities and Corrections. Led by social workers, the Conference held an annual meeting to discuss the major public welfare issues of the day. And sadly, in the 107 years since, poverty and criminal justice reform have remained constant issues facing […]