State budget addresses several Catholic concerns
Published on April 13th, 2012
The 2012-13state budget which passed last month addressed several concerns of the state’s Catholic Bishops that relate to the care for the poor and vulnerable.
“We recognize the continuing fiscal difficulties the state finds itself in, and therefore especially appreciate that Gov. Cuomo and the state legislature avoided the temptation to balance the budget on the backs of those most in need,” said Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference. “While this budget does not address all of the concerns related to care for the poor and vulnerable, it represents a big step in the right direction.”
Among the budget items applauded by the Conference were:
- A 10 percent increase in the public assistance grant this year, in the final installment of a multi-year 30 percent increase. The enacted budget calls for 5 percent on July 1and another 5 percent on October 1 of this year. This agreement fulfills, before the end of the calendar year and in this budget cycle, a commitment that was made three years ago.
- The establishment of the Office of New Americans, which the Catholic Conference anticipates will focus on important immigrant issues. We are hopeful that the new program in the office of the Secretary of State will receive adequate funding to enable it to continue the valuable immigration and refugee resettlement work that was previously done under the auspices of the Bureau of Refugee and Immigration Assistance at the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, while also pursuing new initiatives.
- Reform of the juvenile justice system that will place court adjudicated youth close to their home communities. It should present substantial opportunities to assist youth to achieve rehabilitation and avoid recidivism. We are hopeful that New York City can be prepared for the transition in the ambitious timeframe that has been set.
- Doubling in funding over last year for the Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation, which provides grants to programs providing pre- and post-natal care to poor and at-risk women. Funding increased from $299,500 to $599,500.
The Catholic Conference represents New York State’s Bishops in matters of public policy.