California Budget Sent to Governor
California’s Legislature this week approved a new $183 billion dollar State Budget and in the process established priorities that encompass “profound moral questions about who are we as a society, how we view our future and whether as a people we can look beyond our own self-interest to the interest of the larger society.” (In Search of the Common Good)
Lawmakers provided funds for abortion and to pay for the physician-assisted suicide of Medi-Cal patients at the same time they sought to help immigrants, assist the “working poor” and expand early childhood education. Some of the items the Conference is working on include:
Immigration – We are asking the Governor to support the legislature’s actions on immigration funding, which include a $45 million investment this year with commitments for the following two years as well. This funding will help community-based, non-profit organizations, like Catholic Charities of California, provide legal services for affirmative immigration-related programs, such as education, outreach, and application assistance for naturalization and will also allow for due process and legal representation in deportation proceedings and legal training for immigrant counsel.
Abortion Funding – We are requesting that the Governor line-item veto the public funding of Medi-Cal abortions in the budget. The funding is deceptively placed in various budget items related to “Women’s Health Services”, “Annual Contraceptive Coverage”, and the “Family PACT Program”. (See our Special Report on Funding the Abortion Industry.) Taxpayer funding of abortions for Medi-Cal patients puts the state in a one-sided role of expanding and promoting abortion on a state-wide level. If abortion is a “woman’s choice” then the state of California should not be taking sides by encouraging abortions, particularly within our poorest communities and amongst our most vulnerable populations. (Ask the Governor to veto abortion funding.)
End of Life - We are pleased to see that the Governor’s newly proposed budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year now includes $1.3 million for the implementation of a Palliative Care Services program for Medi-Cal recipients. The California Bishops were personally active in the issue and were pleased to assist many long-time advocacy groups in securing the funding.
However, we are requesting that the Governor eliminate the proposed funding for End-of-Life services for terminally-ill adult patients. According to recent estimates by the California Department of Health Care Services, this funding is slated to increase significantly in next year’s budget (2018-19). At a time when the state claims that it is too poor to fully fund health care for nearly 10 million people, not including our undocumented sisters and brothers, and poor women struggle to find providers to give them the most basic medical care, the state chooses to instead provide funding that would allow Medi-Cal recipients - some of the most vulnerable members of society - to end their lives.
Education - To address the statewide shortage of qualified teachers the Conference is advocating support for several items in the budget package: Utilize $4 million to attract STEM professionals/military into California’s classrooms, particularly within high-need communities; An additional $20 million to expand the teacher credentialing program for classified employees in the current budget; and $10 million in professional development funding for bilingual teachers, who are expected to be in serious short supply.
Also included in this budget package is vital funding that makes early childhood education and college more affordable for families in need. $7.9 million is proposed to reinstate 2,959 full-day state preschool slots for low income families. The Middle Class Scholarship Program would be kept alive for students at California’s two public university systems. In addition, the Legislature moved to maintain full funding for Cal Grants that are used at private colleges and universities.
Fighting Poverty - The State Legislature and the Governor took a huge step toward significantly expanding the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), a proven anti-poverty measure to help working families. The budget extends the CalEITC to include self-employed workers and raises the income eligibility threshold to $22,360, helping an additional 134,000 low-income households. The Conference supports these increases.
Please Take Action on These Alerts
AB 569 (Gonzalez-Fletcher, D- San Diego) targets religious employers who expect faithful public and workplace conduct by their employees, including those who teach at religious schools and are reasonably expected to model the principles of that faith. As it is currently written, the California Catholic Conference strongly opposes AB 569.
Manifiesta tu oposición al proyecto de ley AB 569 – que ataca a Tu Iglesia y a todos los Empleadores Religiosos
El proyecto de ley AB 569, introducida este año en la legislatura de California por la Asambleísta Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher (D- San Diego), hará que los empleados de las organizaciones religiosas puedan ignorar los principios religiosos y las enseñanzas de la Iglesia.
A California Supreme Court case requires your tax dollars to pay for abortion. You have no "choice." Political leaders repeatedly gloss over the opportunity to debate the issue or, at the least, look for ways to reduce the number of abortions.
The unification and nurturing environment of a family is something that cannot be artificially manufactured or replicated. Children are a gift from God, but what happens when the parental relationship is convoluted by multiple parental roles and contractual obligations? In the case of surrogacy, the foundation of family values are often traded out for financial transactions, turning human life into a commodity.
You can find all our alerts on our Action Alert page.
Nevada Rejects Physician-Assisted Suicide
Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) failed by a single vote recently to move forward in the Nevada Legislature as PAS advocates press their legalization campaign across the country. When the Nevada Legislature adjourned last week, the measure also expired.
Testimony from a California mother, Stephanie Packer (pictured above), helped impact the debate in Nevada. Packer is a 34-year-old Orange County mother of four, diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 2012 and at that point told she had three years to live.
A few days after California’s legal assisted suicide law went into effect a year ago Packer’s medical insurance company told her they would not pay for her recommended chemotherapy treatment, but would pay for an inexpensive life-ending drug!
Her testimony was backed up by the former head of the Nevada State Medical Association.
"The truth is that this is bad policy—it hurts patients, it hurts families, and it limits choice and access to care," Dr. Brian Callister warned the Nevada Legislature. "It needs to be vigorously opposed at every opportunity."
Promoting Education Tax Credits
The California Catholic Conference has joined with more than 70 other national and regional organizations advocating for the adoption of a national tax credit to encourage charitable donations to non-profit K-12 scholarship funds in all 50 states.
“Under a national scholarship tax credit,” explains the Education Tax Credit 50 website, “taxpayers would receive a tax credit for making a contribution to a K-12 scholarship organization. A tax credit reduces a taxpayer's tax bill by the amount of their donation dollar-for-dollar. In contrast, the existing charitable donation simply reduces the donor's taxable income, resulting in a tax benefit that is worth a fraction of the benefit of a dollar-for-dollar tax credit.”
Legislation has already been introduced in the U.S. Congress. HR 895 – the Educational Opportunities Act – has been introduced by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Indiana) in the House, while Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has introduced its companion, S. 148, in the Senate.
ETC50’s approach will help enable struggling low-income to middle class families nationwide in choosing the best K-12 learning community for their children. Endorsers include such groups as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Education Committee, the Hispanic Leadership Fund, the Council for American Private Education and many others.
Currently the group is soliciting support from organizations but has plans to request support from individuals in the future as well. Watch Public Policy Insights for updates.
On the Web
2018 Youth Synod Questionnaire – If you are between the ages of 16 and 29, the Vatican wants to hear from you. Next year, the Bishops of the world will gather to discuss the joys and challenges of young people and how best to help them in their spiritual journey. So they want your input on this questionnaire. The goal is to provide you with the opportunity to communicate, express and recount who you are and what you want to say about yourself. You can also read the preparatory document on the Synod.
First Prop 47 Grants Announced – In the 2014 election, the California Catholic Conference endorsed Prop 47, the California Safe Neighborhoods Act, which reduced some misdemeanor penalties for low-level crimes. The initiative promised to “provide educational support and treat mental illness where it can yield the best results for the communities of California.” Last week the Board of State and Community Corrections announced the first round of Prop 47 funding. You can see the list here. The Board receives 65% of the Prop 47 funding for mental health, substance abuse and diversion programs. The California Victim Compensation Board gets 10% of the funds for trauma centers. Finally, 35% goes to the Department of Education to promote restorative justice values in schools. The DoE is promoting programs in select districts.
June 16, 2017
Vol. 10, No. 21