State Catholic conference reacts to Gov. Paterson's deficit-reduction plan - Catholic Courier

State Catholic conference reacts to Gov. Paterson’s deficit-reduction plan

The New York State Catholic Conference issued an Action Alert Nov. 14 encouraging Catholics to share with Gov. David Paterson and their state legislators their concerns about Paterson’s proposed deficit-reduction plan.

Unveiled Nov. 12, the proposed plan would save New York $5.2 billion over a two-year period by cutting state spending in virtually every area, including education, health care, human services and the state workforce, according to information provided by the governor’s office. Paterson has called the state’s legislators to a special session Nov. 18 to address New York’s $1.5 billion budget shortfall in the current fiscal year.

Catholics should be particularly concerned about the treatment of the poor and of the state’s Catholic schools under the proposed deficit-reduction plan, according to the Catholic conference. Among other things, the plan recommends trimming $1.8 billion in Medicaid and other health-care programs over the next few years. Paterson’s proposal also calls for state officials to decrease the rate of growth in school aid during the 2008-09 school year by $836 million and to save $7 million by continuing to provide reimbursement to nonpublic schools consistent with the methodology used in 2007-08. To view the entire plan, visit www.budget.state.ny.us/.

Catholics should remind their legislators that the state has a moral, legal and ethical obligation to care for the poor and vulnerable, according to the Catholic conference. The organization posted a prewritten message to the governor and legislators on its Web site, www.nyscatholic.org, and anyone interested may edit the document as they wish and then e-mail it to their elected officials.

“When the Legislature meets Nov. 18 to address the state’s serious fiscal crisis as it relates to the current budget, please remember that in difficult economic times, the needs of the poor and vulnerable increase exponentially,” the letter reads in part. “The state must not balance the budget on the backs of the poor and vulnerable.”

In particular, the Catholic conference recommended cutting costs by prohibiting state funds from financing human embryonic stem-cell research and by restricting Medicaid funding for abortion. The Catholic conference also argued against cutting Catholic schools’ reimbursements for mandated services for Catholic schools, which are saving the state $8 billion this year alone by keeping 500,000 children off the public schools’ rolls.

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