Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic schools have prioritized safety while providing nearly uninterrupted instruction to students, which has mattered a great deal for Michigan families. Due to political disagreements among elected officials, many nonpublic schools are anxious about the timing of state approval for federal funds to assist them with COVID-related expenses (Emergency Assistance to Non-public Schools Program or EANS funds), although lawmakers are currently working on a new budget proposal (see paragraph below). In The Word from Lansing for April, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) dives into the importance of this funding and encourages politicians to work together for the benefit of all students within the state.
This week, State House and Senate committees passed supplemental appropriations bills that would cover certain expenses remaining in the October 2020-September 2021 year. The measures do currently include federal COVID-19 aid for nonpublic schools, the Emergency Assistance to Nonpublic Schools Program. EANS funding would cover expenses such as supplies for sanitation, personal protection equipment, and technology upgrades to enable remote learning. Although the money was awarded to the state by the federal government, the Michigan Legislature is required to appropriate the funds through a budget bill in order for them to be disbursed.
The House version includes almost $87 million in EANS aid that was approved by Congress in December. It also includes an additional $93 million in new EANS funding that was passed and signed into federal law in March 2021.
The Senate version includes the December EANS dollars solely. The additional $93 million in funding was not included, as the federal government has not yet formally opened up the process for states to apply.
Michigan Catholic Conference will continue to advocate for a swift resolution among lawmakers and Governor Whitmer, as the funding is critical for the safety of Michigan students and school staff.
President Joe Biden convened the Leaders Summit on Climate on April 22-23, which included a video message by Pope Francis. In support of the Holy Father, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released the following statement:
"Pope Francis addressed a virtual gathering of over 40 leaders from the highest levels of world government at the White House's Leaders Summit on Climate, saying, 'our concern is to see that the environment is cleaner, healthier and conserved, and to take care of nature so that it takes care of us.' We commend the Biden Administration's commitment to climate stewardship and environmental justice, consistent with the decision to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. The Leaders Summit on Climate reflects renewed American leadership on climate change, and the pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030 is an ambitious and welcome national goal. Consistent with the Holy Father's call for integral ecology, the movement towards a net-zero emission world must also emphasize just transition so that working families who rely on the energy sector are not left behind."