Name
Michigan Catholic Conference
Phone
(800) 395-5565
Fax
(517) 372-3940
Address
510 S. Capitol Ave.
Lansing, MI 48933

News Release: Board of Directors Statement Calls on State Officials to “Protect Essential Needs’ for the Poor in Budget Debate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(LANSING)—While legislative leaders seek to diminish further Michigan’s social safety net in an effort to balance the state’s $2.8 billion deficit, the Michigan Catholic Conference Board of Directors today approved a statement calling for solidarity with the state’s poorest citizens and urges legislators to enact a budget that protects essential needs.

According to the MCC Board’s statement: “As deliberations take place to resolve Michigan’s nearly $3 billion deficit, the Michigan Catholic Conference Board of Directors calls upon state leaders to overcome divisiveness and to pursue a budget solution that guarantees preferential options for the most needy population.” The statement further reads: “Michigan’s budget must have a moral foundation, one that manifests the priority the state places on providing basic human services through an equitable tax structure and a just distribution of resources.”

“The MCC Board of Directors recognizes that Michigan is facing extraordinary challenges and difficult economic times,” says Sister Monica Kostielney, R.S.M., Michigan Catholic Conference President and C.E.O., “but the Board is also saying that the state has a moral obligation to craft a budget that recognizes and protects the programs and services on which thousands of poor and vulnerable citizens rely for health and safety.”

The state is facing a combined $2.8 billion budget deficit in its general fund and school aid budgets for the 2009-10 fiscal year. That deficit must be balanced by October 1, according to the Michigan Constitution, otherwise the state will be forced, as it was in 2007, to discontinue temporarily services and programs until revenues are secured.

Michigan Catholic Conference has consistently spoken out against a prevailing “shared pain” approach to balancing the state budget deficit, and has called on legislators to craft a state budget that ensures Michigan’s poorest citizens are protected. Earlier this year the governor proposed, and the Legislature’s appropriations’ committees approved, an Executive Order that cut some $304 million out of the state budget that ends September 30. Over half of those cuts came from the Department of Community Health and the Department of Human Services, two state departments primarily responsible for ensuring adequate health and safety for the state’s destitute citizens.

Additional legislative proposals have called for a fifty-percent cut to the state clothing allowance program, which provides the poorest children in the state with limited funds to purchase clothes prior to the commencement of the new school year; a cut to the state Family Independence Grant program, which provides cash assistance to poor citizens who have no other income; making the 48-month time limit on cash assistance retroactive; cutting the Supplemental Security Income program, which, in part, provides assistance to the elderly and people with disabilities who live independently; and halting full implementation of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which provides a tax break for the working poor who pay a disproportionate amount in payroll taxes.

“We call on all those of good will, especially the Catholic community, to join us in working for the common good and economic justice for all,” the Board statement concludes.

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state. The Conference’s Board of Directors is comprised of Michigan’s seven (arch) diocesan bishops, five laypersons, one priest and one religious sister.

Full Text of Michigan Catholic Conference Board of Directors’ Statement on State of Michigan Budget:

“As deliberations take place to resolve Michigan’s nearly $3 billion deficit, the Michigan Catholic Conference Board of Directors calls upon state leaders to overcome divisiveness and to pursue a budget solution that guarantees preferential options for the most needy population.

Speaking on behalf of society’s most vulnerable citizens is a Catholic tradition. We advocate for legislation that protects and defends the dignity of the human person from conception until natural death. The homeless, those without health care, the unemployed, the sick and aged, and all vulnerable persons struggling to survive, are some of those who depend on state programs for their own personal health and safety. We call on Michigan’s elected officials to stand with them by enacting a budget that protects essential needs.

Michigan’s budget must have a moral foundation, one that manifests the priority the state places on providing basic human services through an equitable tax structure and a just distribution of resources. The MCC will continue to advocate this position on behalf of the vulnerable. We call on all those of good will, especially the Catholic community, to join us in working for the common good and economic justice for all.”

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

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Recent Press Releases

Name
Michigan Catholic Conference
Phone
(800) 395-5565
Fax
(517) 372-3940
Email
Address
510 South Capitol Avenue
Lansing, Michigan 48933
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