2020-2021 Education Budget Testimony

Testimony of the NYS Council of Catholic Schools Superintendents, presented by James D. Cultrara, director for education, NYS Catholic Conference, before a Joint Legislative Budget Committee Hearing, Albany, NY.

February 11, 2020


Going back more than 200 years, the state’s Catholic schools continue their tradition of providing an outstanding education to thousands of our state’s children, many of whom are not Catholic, extending them a promising future for their families, communities and the economy. Especially in our inner cities, Catholic schools continue to help bring children out of poverty. Parents, however, are finding it increasingly difficult to shoulder the dual burden of taxes to support public schools while paying tuition to support the education of their own children. The decline in enrollment and the resulting closing of Catholic schools over the decades is no surprise. Little attention, however, has been paid to the added cost to taxpayers.

While the Catholic Bishops are continuously forced to make the extraordinarily difficult decisions to close Catholic schools, it must be noted that no Catholic school has closed due to academic failure. This is something that cannot be said about either traditional public or charter schools. Nor have our schools been closed due to lack of desire on the part of parents to enroll their children. The loss of Catholic schools in New York State comes down entirely to the rising costs and the inability of parents to pay the increasing tuition needed to meet those costs. This has been a tragedy for the state, for the parents of those children who are enrolled and those who wish they could be, and for the children themselves.


2020-2021 Human Services Budget Testimony

Testimony of Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the NYS Catholic Conference, on the 2020-2021 Human Services Budget, submitted to Joint Legislative Budget Hearing, Albany, NY.

January 30, 2020

Senator Krueger, Assembly Member Weinstein, distinguished members of the Senate and Assembly, Ladies and Gentlemen.

My name is Richard E. Barnes, and I am the executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference. The Catholic Conference advocates for issues of importance to the New York State Council of Catholic Charities Directors, the policy board for Catholic Charities and its programs operating in all 62 counties of this state. Catholic Charities’ 400 human services agencies from every region of the state serve the poor and vulnerable, aged and infirm, immigrants and refugees, people with developmental and physical disabilities, people with mental illness, people with HIV/AIDS, those suffering from addiction, people and families who are homeless or facing housing insecurity, and many others. For more than 100 years, Catholic Charities has partnered with New York State in providing services, and it remains the largest non-governmental provider of human services in the state.


Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act Testimony

Testimony on the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act at a regional Joint Hearing of the NYS Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Senate Standing Committee on Labor

Presented by Shannon Kelly, Chief Operating Officer, Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster

Seelig Theatre at SUNY Sullivan, 112 College Road, Loch Sheldrake, NY

May 2, 2019

Shannon Kelly

Good evening, and thank you for the opportunity to testify on this important legislative issue facing our state. My name is Shannon Kelly. I am the Chief Operating Officer of Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster. As one of the human services agencies of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, our organization is committed to building a compassionate and just society. Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster serves the homeless, the hungry, those with emotional or physical disabilities, as well as immigrants, the marginalized and the vulnerable of this tri-county region. Last year, we served more than 42,000 individuals and families, regardless of race, religion, or ability to pay.

I speak today on behalf of our regional agency, as well as for Catholic Charities agencies across New York State, and in solidarity with the New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the Catholic Bishops of New York State. Catholic Charities and the Catholic Conference have been advocating for passage of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act for more than two decades. At the same time, the Church has been working on the ground to meet the spiritual and material needs of farmworkers and their families – through Catholic Charities, Catholic parishes, and individual clergy, religious and lay people.

It is through this lens that I deliver my remarks today. Let me begin by making one thing clear: Support for basic rights for farmworkers is not anti-farmer. At least it need not be. Our organization serves farm families and farmworkers alike. We are in this community and are well aware of the unique nature of farming and the challenges facing farmers, from uncontrollable weather factors, to the pressures of modern economies, to injuries, the high cost of maintenance, distribution of a perishable product and competition from foreign markets. We need our family farms, for our local economy and for our very subsistence.


Testimony Regarding Gestational Surrogacy

Photo by Joey Thompson on Unsplash

Following is testimony of the New York State Catholic Conference submitted in writing to a hearing of the Assembly Committee on Judiciary and Assembly Committee on Health regarding Gestational Surrogacy , 250 Broadway, New York, N.Y.

May 24, 2018

Chairman Dinowitz, Chairman Gottfried, and Honorable Members of the Assembly Judiciary and Health Committees, thank you for the opportunity to present testimony on the topic of compensated gestational carrier surrogacy contracts.

Currently, legislation (A.6959-A) is pending which would legalize commercial “gestational surrogacy,” or “collaborative reproduction,” which involves a monetary contractual arrangement whereby a woman who is genetically unrelated to the child, will bear that child for someone else, with the intent of relinquishing the child at birth. Human embryos are created in a laboratory through in vitro fertilization (IVF), using egg and sperm that may or may not be from the intended parents, then transferred to the uterus of the surrogate mother.

At the present time, New York Domestic Relations Law declares such surrogacy contracts to be contrary to public policy, void, and unenforceable. Baby brokers who assist in arranging such contracts are liable for up to a civil penalty of $10,000 and forfeiture of the fee received in brokering the contract; a second violation constitutes a felony. Importantly, this policy was signed into law in 1992 by then-Governor Mario M. Cuomo, at the unanimous recommendation of the NYS Task Force on Life and the Law, with bipartisan legislative support. The New York State Catholic Conference advocated for this policy in collaboration with the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women and other diverse voices.

In December of 2017 a deeply divided NYS Task Force on Life and the Law released a new report on surrogacy entitled “Revisiting Surrogate Parenting: Analysis and Recommendations for Public Policy on Gestational Surrogacy.” Fifteen of the members signed a majority report recommending a repeal of New York’s ban on commercial gestational surrogacy and a complex web of regulations governing the practice. Seven members signed a minority report recommending that New York’s ban be maintained. We concur with the minority and their well-documented report, attach it with this testimony, and urge that you read it in full. We summarize here the primary harms of surrogacy as detailed in that minority report. More

Testimony on Physician-Assisted Suicide Legislation

Testimony of the New York State Catholic Conference regarding the “Medical Aid in Dying Act” (A.2383-A / S.3151-A). Submitted by Edward T. Mechmann, Esq., Assembly Hearing Room, 19th Floor, 250 Broadway, New York, N.Y.

May 3, 2018

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Assembly, good afternoon. My name is Edward Mechmann, I am the Director of Public Policy of the Archdiocese of New York. I am grateful for the opportunity to testify on behalf of the Archdiocese and the New York State Catholic Conference, which is the public policy arm of the eight Catholic dioceses in New York State. I was the author of an amicus brief on behalf of the Catholic Conference in the Myers v. Schneiderman litigation. More