FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Lansing, Mich.) — There are some highs and some lows to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Budget Recommendation for 2020–2021 that was rolled out to a joint meeting of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees this morning, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) said today. While the administration is seeking to fund programs that assist elders, foster children, and schools engaged in shared time, concerns exist regarding Governor Whitmer’s continued troubling position toward non-public schools and a concern about the possibility the administration will seek to use taxpayer funding to promote abortion through the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program.
“The proposed budget is an opportunity for the administration to indicate its commitment to the state as a whole, rather than specific interest groups or ideologies,” said Tom Hickson, Michigan Catholic Conference Vice President for Public Policy. “The true indicator of the moral strength of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members.”
“We’re appreciative of the governor’s efforts to provide funding that fights opioid abuse and addiction, supports elder care and foster care, and maintains the state’s shared time program,” said Hickson. “The governor’s ongoing stance toward nonpublic schools and families, however, does nothing to promote the concept that all students and teachers in Michigan should be treated fairly, regardless of the school they attend or teach.”
Governor Whitmer’s budget disregards the presence of over 100,000 students enrolled in Michigan’s nonpublic schools by preventing eligibility for services unrelated to education or instruction. For example:
- The governor has proposed in her budget reimbursing teachers up to $250 for out-of-pocket supplies, but only for public school teachers.
- $40 million has been proposed for student health, safety, and well-being grants, including air and water filters, lead abatement, and security measures, but does not allow nonpublic schools to apply.
- Gov. Whitmer is recommending $4.7 million in funding for the state’s Robotics program, but does not allow for nonpublic schools to participate, even though as an extracurricular program it does not directly relate to daily education or instruction or factor that some public school students would not be able to join if not for nonpublic school participation.
In addition, the governor’s support for abortion on-demand raises reasonable concerns over how the administration plans to integrate “reproductive health care” within the proposed Healthy Moms, Heathy Babies program, especially in low-income, minority areas. According to Rebecca Mastee, MCC Policy Advocacy:
“The governor’s effort to provide support for vulnerable women during pregnancy deserves applause, especially in the areas of maternal mortality and those in need of postpartum support. MCC has long supported wrapping women and children with care—something the now-vetoed Michigan Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services program accomplished. It would thus be regrettable for a new program to become tainted with controversy should the administration seek to promote abortion. In this regard, clarity of intent is needed.”
With the Governor’s Executive Budget Recommendation now in the rear-view mirror, state lawmakers will begin to craft their own departmental budgets prior to reconciling any differences between chambers and the administration. MCC will remain engaged in the process and will urge adoption of budget policies that promote the common good for all Michiganders.
Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.
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