'Impact on Families and Children Will be Felt for Years to Come,' Says Conference
LANSING (MCC) – Today's passage of welfare reform legislation that will cut off from state assistance a minimum of 13,000 families and some 25,000 children was fast-tracked through the legislative process while neglecting to address how the measures will impact destitute children, Michigan Catholic Conference stated today following the House's concurrence of House Bills 4409 and 4410. The legislation now heads to the Governor for his signature.
"The impact of the bills that passed the Legislature today will be felt by poor and vulnerable Michigan residents and children for years to come," said Tom Hickson, Michigan Catholic Conference Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy. "It is unfortunate that the House chose to ship these bills to the Governor rather than send them to conference committee in order for elected officials and the public to engage in a much-needed conversation of how the legislation will affect destitute persons – most critically the thousands of children whose parents rely on state benefits."
In late July Michigan Catholic Conference urged the Speaker of the House and the Chairman of the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee to send the bills to conference committee once the bills were granted immediate effect by the State Senate. This, according to the Conference, would "allow for a discussion of how the state will prevent thousands of children from falling deeper into poverty." The correspondence also made clear that passing House Bills 4409 and 4410 in their current form would do nothing to move the needle on the MIDashboard, which places the number of Michigan children living in poverty in its 'economic strength' category. Michigan's unemployment rate has climbed from 10.5 percent to 10.9 percent since the Conference's request for the bills to be sent to conference committee.
"While some have spoken to the temporary nature of the state's assistance program as the reason for moving thousands of families and children off the rolls, the fact remains that underprivileged children will feel the impact of their parents losing state benefits," said Hickson. "It is highly unfortunate and counter-productive to the state's future economy for the Legislature to casually dismiss the economic reality of thousands of Michigan children."
Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.