May 8, 2019
Dear Members of the Health and Human Services Conference Committee:
The Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice for the Catholic Church in Minnesota, writes to encourage you to remember the poor and vulnerable in your HHS Conference Committee Report. Budgets are moral documents, reflecting our concerns and values. As there are not unlimited resources, the state budget should work somewhat like a household budget to prioritize the most urgent needs. In our judgment, those include investments in the wellbeing of children, the elderly, the disabled, the poor, and the vulnerable.
In particular, we ask that you include in the final bill:
- Funding for the Positive Alternatives Program (SF 2452) (Please also oppose any changes to the statutory language changes regarding the Positive Alternatives Program contained in HF 2414);
- Language and funding for community grants to include prenatal care access and utilization to decrease racial and ethnic disparities in prenatal care (HF 2414);
- Language and funding for a study on breastfeeding disparities (SF 2452);
- The provision that 1) codifies home visiting for pregnant women and families with young children, 2) increases flexibility in types of programs funded, and 3) expands funding an additional $500K for FY 20-21 (HF2414);
- Increasing the Minnesota Family Investment Program monthly cash assistance by $100 per month per household (HF 2414);
- Strengthening housing support grants, specifically the statewide Emergency Services Program and increased funding for Emergency Services Grants (HF 2414);
- Language to repeal the sunset of the provider tax to ensure that the Health Care Access Fund has a stable source of revenue.
Two additional policy provisions in the Senate HHS omnibus bill should also be included in the conference report: the ultrasound viewing language and the 20-week abortion ban (SF 2452).
Please exclude the counseling ban (“conversion therapy ban”) provision contained in HF 2414, to ensure young people have access to counseling options to assist them with unwanted same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria.
A basic moral test for society is measuring how we treat the most vulnerable in our midst. In a society with a growing gap between rich and poor, weak and strong, the Bible gives us the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46), and reminds us that we will all be judged by our response to the “least among us.”
The Minnesota Catholic Conference seeks to create eco-systems of public policy that foster human flourishing. We ask that, as you deliberate, please keep all these provisions in mind and include them in the legislation you send to the Governor.
Thank you for your consideration and for your service to all Minnesotans.
Shawn M. Peterson
Associate Director for Public Policy