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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
February 9, 2018
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • Governor Presents Budget Recommendations to Legislature for 2018-2019 Year
  • Dual Enrollment Expansion Becomes Law
  • MCC Participates in Social Ministry Gathering, Speaks to Need for Dreamer Solution
  • National Marriage Week is February 7-14
  • February 8th Marks International Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking
 
  Governor Presents Budget Recommendations to Legislature for 2018-2019 Year  
 
Earlier this week, Governor Snyder presented his proposed state budget to a joint meeting of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees. His recommendations for Fiscal Year 2019, which would run from October 2018 to September 2019, includes a total of $56.8 billion overall, a 0.6 percent increase from the previous year. The proposed General Fund budget would stand at $10 billion. 

Michigan Catholic Conference is pleased that funding proposed for the Department of Health and Human Services will continue to support a variety of programs that assist those in need. The governor recommends the State contribute $217.6 million general fund to maintain the comprehensive coverage for over 650,000 residents enrolled in the Healthy Michigan plan. The Children's clothing allowance, which helps low-income families purchase clothing for the school year, is allocated $6.27 million to maintain the current allowance of $140 per child. The proposal also includes adequate funding to maintain the Heat and Eat program. This program helps low-income residents receive additional food assistance from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) when they receive federal energy assistance (LIHEAP). A new $1 million proposal will provide a $2 per person increase in the monthly Family Independence Program (FIP) grant for low-income families with children. This will raise the monthly benefit for a single parent with two children from $492 to $498, to account for inflation and to strengthen the safety net for vulnerable families. The governor's budget also adds $61.3 million to help local indigent criminal defense systems implement the minimum standards authorized by the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission, which were adopted by the Michigan Legislature in 2013. These standards cover training and education of counsel, the initial client interview, the use of investigation and experts, and counsel at first appearance and other critical stages, and they provide a uniform framework for the provision of indigent defense services across the state. Michigan Catholic Conference will also work with lawmakers to provide restoration of funding for a number of important initiatives and programs, including: 
  • The Michigan Pregnancy and Parenting Support Program, which provides support to women in crisis pregnancies and promotes alternatives to abortion. 
  • Competitive grants to nonpublic schools that participate in the FIRST robotics competitions. 
  • Full funding for shared time instruction, which allows a nonpublic school student to enroll in a "non-essential" elective course at a public school and be considered a part-time pupil for the purposes of state aid. The State spent nearly $135 million on shared time during the 2017-2018 school year, while the governor's proposal recommends capping funding at only $64 million.
  • Funding to compensate nonpublic schools for the cost of state health, safety, and welfare regulations. 
With the Governor having proposed his budget recommendations, both the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives will now build their own departmental budgets. They will also negotiate differences between each chamber and what the governor has recommended. Much of this work will be done through each chamber's appropriations committee and their respective subcommittees. In recent years, the Legislature has completed the coming fiscal year's budget by early June. Michigan Catholic Conference will continue to provide budget updates as developments take place in the weeks ahead.
 
  Dual Enrollment Expansion Becomes Law  
 
On Tuesday, February 6, Governor Rick Snyder signed House Bill 4735 into law as Public Act 11 of 2018 to expand dual enrollment opportunities in this state. As mentioned in previous Lansing Updates, Michigan students have long been able to take college or university courses for credit while still in high school. The newly enacted policy now allows public and nonpublic school students in districts near the Michigan border to dual enroll in secondary institutions in other states that are within twenty miles of the border. Michigan Catholic Conference supported the measure and is thankful to Representative Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis) for including both public and nonpublic schools in the legislation.
 
  MCC Participates in Social Ministry Gathering, Speaks to Need for Dreamer Solution  
 
Members of Michigan Catholic Conference's policy staff traveled to Washington DC for the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, an annual event sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). While there, MCC made contact with staff from fifteen of the sixteen Michigan Congressional offices to talk about critical issues, including comprehensive immigration reform and relief for the Dreamers (immigrants who came to America as children without documents). Several of these meetings included personal visits with Representatives Debbie Dingell, Dale Kildee, Brenda Lawrence, and John Moolenaar. Action on these issues is critical, as Dreamers have grown up in this country, some even choosing to put their lives on the line to serve in the armed forces. They attend American schools, and they participate in the economy. Dreamers truly exemplify the extraordinary contributions that immigrants can provide to this nation and are American, in every way except for their immigration status. For more information on the Catholic Church's position on legislative relief for Dreamers, click here.

Photo: Catholic Social Ministry Gathering participants from Michigan Catholic Conference and the Diocese of Gaylord posed after a meeting with staff from Representative Jack Bergman's office.
 
  National Marriage Week is February 7-14  
 
National Marriage Week, an annual observance in the United States that supports and promotes marriage and the family, began on Wednesday, February 7. In conjunction with the start of National Marriage Week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced the launch of a newly redesigned www.ForYourMarriage.org website. Originally launched in 2007, the website is an initiative of the USCCB that offers numerous resources on the meaning and beauty of marriage in God's plan. It also offers support to couples at every stage of their journey. There are sections dedicated to dating, marriage preparation, mixed marriages, parenting and family, natural family planning, and the stages of marriage, among others. A marriage resource section offers daily marriage tips, marriage help and support links, and solutions to common challenges. Finally, questions specific to planning a Catholic wedding as well as related Church documents and teachings are available on the website. 
 
  February 8th Marks International Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking  
 
On Thursday, February 8, Catholics across the world participated in the International Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking. The day is designated as an opportunity to pray for victims and survivors of forced labor and commercial sex trafficking, and it coincides with the feast day of a former slave, St. Josephine Bakhita. With an estimated 25 million+ women, children, and men trapped in modern-day slavery, February 8th also offers an opportunity to educate communities of faith about the prevalence of trafficking. Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration, notes "through prayer we grow in solidarity with those that have suffered this affront to human dignity. We demonstrate to survivors that they are not alone."

For parishes and schools interested in learning more about human trafficking and finding resources to raise awareness in your own communities, check out the USCCB Become a Shepherd Toolkit.

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Michigan Catholic Conference, 510 South Capitol Avenue, Lansing, Michigan 48933 Michigan Catholic Conference: The Official Public Policy Voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan Phone: (517) 372-9310, Fax: (517) 372-3940, publicpolicy@micatholic.org