Lansing Update: Update on Budget Items of Interest to Catholics

A Look at the Proposed State Budget Ahead of Lawmakers’ Final Decisions

As lawmakers enter the final month before their regular session schedule ends for the summer, the looming task to be completed is next year’s state budget.

This week, lawmakers were officially named to conference committees, which is the next step in finalizing the budget. These committees will ultimately produce the final budget decisions that will reconcile the differences between the plans proposed by the Governor, House and Senate.

It has not been determined when those final decisions will be announced, but the prevailing theory is that lawmakers intend to get a final budget to Gov. Whitmer’s desk sometime before they break for summer by the end of June.

Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) is tracking several proposed spending items across the different versions of the budget, including funding programs that seek to help the poorest and most vulnerable members of our state as well as students in nonpublic schools.

There have been varying levels of support for these items between the three proposed state budgets. Below is a rundown on the spending items of interest to MCC ahead of the final conference reports.

Pregnancy and Parenting

Nonprofits that provide diapers to moms in need would continue to receive $4.4 million in diaper assistance grants under the Governor’s budget. The House also agreed to this, and the Senate is proposing to boost the amount to $14 million.

Prenatal and Infant Support

A pilot program providing direct cash assistance to Flint mothers and young children would continue with more funding under the Governor’s proposed budget.

The “RX Kids” prenatal and infant cash allowance program received a $16.5 million grant in the current year budget aimed at providing a healthy start for Flint babies during the first year of life.

This five-year pilot project continues this year, and the Governor proposed an additional $24 million to add more pilot sites. The House added $9.6 million to continue the program, while the Senate did not provide additional funding.

Faith-Based Organization Grants

The Senate added new funding to provide $5 million for faith-based service grants for housing and community service-related activities.

Office of Suicide Prevention

The Senate included $1.5 million for the state to establish an office of suicide prevention.

Foster Care Rates

Private and nonprofit foster care and independent living services would continue to benefit from the current per diem rate of $55.20 under the Governor and Senate’s proposal, while the House increased it to $60.20. The Senate alternatively proposed $7.5 million to increase the administrative rate for foster care providers.

Nonpublic Schools

The Governor did not propose funding to reimburse nonpublic schools for complying with state health and safety regulations, even though $1 million for this purpose was signed into law for the current fiscal year. Both House and Senate would maintain this funding in their budgets.

Nonpublic schools were not included in a robotics grant program in the executive or the House budget recommendation. The Senate would maintain the current fiscal year appropriation of $600,000.

School Safety

Unlike last year’s proposal and current year budget, the Governor does not provide $18 million for school safety grants to nonpublic schools. The House approved $300 million for public schools and $18 million for nonpublic schools, thanks in part to the 6,500 emails sent to lawmakers by Catholic Advocacy Network members like you. The Senate approved $150 million for public schools only.

Increasing the Number of Teachers in Michigan

For a third year, two programs seek to encourage more individuals to enter the teaching profession, but nonpublic schoolteachers are excluded from benefiting from the programs in each of the budget proposals.

The Student Teacher Stipend Program has $50 million proposed to provide up to $9,600 per semester to students attending teacher preparation programs at public or private colleges in Michigan for tuition and living expenses. The student must student-teach only in a public school to receive the stipend.

There is $25 million proposed for the Michigan Future Educator Fellowship, which provides up to $10,000 per year for first‐time degree seekers and career changers to lower the cost of becoming a PreK–12 teacher.

Students must attend public or private institutions of higher education, and the fellowship would be repaid if the student does not subsequently teach at a public school. Subsequently teaching at a nonpublic school was allowed in the first year of this program, but that is no longer permitted.

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Contemplate Christ’s Love for Souls Today on the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart

This month, and particularly this day, the Church celebrates the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

This solemnity originated in earnest with the visions received by Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 1600s, who was asked by Our Lord to spread devotion to His Most Sacred Heart.

Centuries later, this feast was extended to the universal Church and is celebrated within the Octave of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi).

For more on this beautiful devotion centered on Jesus’ love for humanity, the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Unleash the Gospel project published a piece on the origins of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and its significance. Click or tap here to read more.

“My divine heart is so inflamed with love for men, and for you in particular, that not being able any longer to restrain within itself the flames of its ardent charity, it must spread them everywhere, through your means, and manifest itself to men that they may be enriched with its precious treasures … to rescue them from the abyss of perdition.”

Jesus, to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

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