Lansing Update: October 9, 2009

In this week’s Lansing Update:

  1. Senate Passes EITC Legislation, Efforts to Finalize 2009 State Budget Continue
  2. MCC Statement on Appointment of Bishop-Elect Hebda to Diocese of Gaylord

Senate Passes EITC Legislation, Efforts to Finalize 2009 State Budget Continue

The Michigan Senate this week passed legislation that would freeze implementation of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for one year as part of a legislative package designed to soften a previously proposed $218 per pupil cut to school aid payments. The EITC would restart after the 2010 tax year and be phased-in at 2.5 percent annually until it reaches the originally agreed upon 20 percent of the federal credit, according to House Bill 4514.

Michigan Catholic Conference has been the leading supporter of the state EITC due to the benefit it provides the working poor population of the state. The Senate-passed legislation would direct some $160 million in EITC savings toward a $1 billion shortfall in the state’s school aid budget, but the Speaker of the House indicated he was not in favor of using those dollars for such a purpose. MCC staff concurs with the Speaker’s assessment as taking a small benefit promised by the legislature to the working poor should not be directed to an $11 billion state fund. MCC has also maintained that should the EITC be implemented at less than the scheduled ten percent then the savings should be redirected to programs that benefit the state’s poor population.

Despite the legislature having sent to the governor a school aid bill that includes a $165 per pupil foundation allowance cut, disagreements still exist as to how the budget will be funded. The legislation was deemed necessary to meet an October 20 deadline for payments to local school districts.

In order to pay for the decreased school aid cut, the Senate passed on a party line vote legislation that would raise some $330 million in revenue, which included halting implementation of the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, and decreasing several other tax credits, such as the state’s film tax credit. The Senate, however, also voted to decrease the Michigan Business Tax and to provide certain exemptions for personal income tax.

MCC staff continues to work with legislators to produce the best possible legislation that would benefit Michigan’s working poor citizens and the state’s destitute population as a whole.

MCC is asking supporters to contact their elected officials through the Catholic Legislative Advocacy Network [Link no longer available —Ed.] in order to preserve full implementation of the state EITC.

Efforts to finalize the 2009 budget continued this week as the governor signed into law state funding for community colleges, the Department of Judiciary and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Several other state budgets, including the Department of Human Services, have yet to be sent to the governor as Senate Republicans are worried the administration may line-item veto certain program cuts. Michigan is currently operating on a continuation budget that was passed September 30 after the legislature was unable to meet a constitutional deadline that mandates the state budget to be balanced by October 1.

MCC Statement on Appointment of Bishop-Elect Hebda to Diocese of Gaylord

Michigan Catholic Conference President and Chief Executive Officer Sister Monica Kostielney, R.S.M. offered the following comments this week regarding the appointment of Reverend Monsignor Bernard A. Hebda as Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Gaylord:

“Bishop-elect Hebda’s prominence in the field of law and his experience addressing matters of legislative significance will undoubtedly help serve the mission of the Michigan Catholic Conference, which is to promote a social order that respects the dignity of the human person and to serve the common good in the spirit of the Beatitudes and in accord with the teachings of the Catholic Church. I look forward to introducing Bishop-elect Hebda to the Conference and its staff. Michigan Catholic Conference will greatly miss the service of Bishop Cooney, a humble and kind pastor who for the past twenty years has been a close friend to the Conference.”