FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(LANSING)—As the legislature works to move Michigan’s poorest population toward self-sufficiency, the Michigan Catholic Conference today urged the Senate Families and Human Services Committee to address welfare reform with compassion for the poor and an emphasis on job training, education and protection of the family. Legislation was introduced in the Senate prior to the Thanksgiving holiday after a bi-cameral work group produced suggestions to reform the state’s assistance program.
“For over four decades the Michigan Catholic Conference has consistently advocated to the legislature that any changes to the state’s welfare system must be executed with compassion, dignity and respect for the poor,” said Paul Long, Michigan Catholic Conference Vice President for Public Policy. “In order for the state to prevent Michigan residents from repetitively moving on and off its welfare rolls, the Conference strongly believes that proper job training and education are the necessary tools to reduce welfare and to assist those in supporting themselves.”
To accomplish the goals of self-sufficiency and a reduction in welfare, Michigan Catholic Conference today urged the Senate panel to take the following into consideration:
- Dignity of the human person must be at the center of any welfare reform; with education and job training a top priority for any changes to the current system.
- Enacting a lifetime limit for assistance is bad public policy and must not be included in any efforts to reform welfare. Due to Michigan’s cyclical economy, personal disabilities, lasting family situations and other debilitating conditions, an imposed lifetime limit would only further jeopardize the state’s most vulnerable population.
- Michigan must never create a “family cap” policy. It is a fact that when New Jersey adopted a “family cap” the state’s abortion rate increased.
“It is important for the legislature to take into consideration, especially during this time of year, that the target of welfare reform must be poverty—not poor people,” said Long.
Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.
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