MCC: Governor playing 'zero-sum game' on abortion with veto of pregnancy funds

Michigan's Capitol building is pictured in Lansing. The Michigan Catholic Conference said Gov. Whitmer's decision to line-item veto more than $20 million in funding for adoption and pregnancy services is "unfortunate" but not surprising, given the governor's history of pursuing a "zero-sum game" on the issue of abortion. (Detroit Catholic photo)

New state budget, which goes into effect Oct. 1, a 'moral statement' about priorities for Michigan's citizens, Catholic leaders say

LANSING — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's line-item veto of more than $20 million in funding to support adoption programs, pregnancy resource centers and grants to help struggling mothers is "terribly unfortunate," but "not unexpected," given the governor's history of pursuing a "zero-sum game of abortion extremism," the Michigan Catholic Conference said.

Gov. Whitmer used a line-item veto — a maneuver to eliminate specific funds from the annual budget approved by the state legislature — to cut the funding July 20, a small fraction of more than $76 billion in funding for state priorities.

“Although terribly unfortunate, it is not unexpected that the governor would, again, take the extreme position of vetoing funding to help pregnant women in crisis," said Rebecca Mastee, policy advocate for the Michigan Catholic Conference. "Vetoing this funding alienates tens of thousands of women and families who receive assistance from non-profit pregnancy resource centers each year."

The veto is the second year in a row Gov. Whitmer has specifically removed funding for pregnancy centers and adoption programs, even as her administration pursues a reversal of Michigan's long-standing 1931 ban on abortion.

The law, which is currently suspended by injunction, would have gone into effect upon the reversal of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The governor's vetoes eliminate $10 million that would have supported adoption programs in the state, $4 million in grants to assist pregnant women who lack a safe home, $3 million for a maternal navigator program to promote childbirth and alternatives to abortion, $2 million in tax credits for parents who choose adoption, $1.5 million in grants for pregnancy resource centers, $700,000 for a program to assist pregnant women and those in crisis pregnancies, and $50,000 for materials to inform medical providers that the state will not use tax dollars to fund abortion.

"By eliminating these helping hands for women who want to have their babies, the governor is, in effect, taking away their ‘choice’ — the choice for childbirth," Mastee said. "These vetoes — along with some $16 million vetoed from last year’s budget that sought to help women in need — clarify that pro-abortion advocates have fully committed to push abortion extremism on our state over the well-being of women in need."

In a July 20 statement, the Michigan Catholic Conference applauded other elements of the budget, which includes funding to help schools address violence, expanded support for human trafficking victims, increased payments to foster care families and funding for school clothing and food subsidies for low-income families.

“From the perspective of the state budget as a moral statement, the budget that was signed today and the omnibus education budget that was signed last week, is good in many regards and disappointing in others,” said Tom Hickson, Michigan Catholic Conference vice president for advocacy and public policy. “We are grateful that this budget contains important funding to help protect children in all of Michigan’s schools and provides important resources for the less fortunate. We are also pleased to see funding to research the root causes of violence in schools, especially gun violence.

"Both budgets, however, contained critical funding to provide expectant mothers with assistance in raising their babies. Sadly, these programs were vetoed by the Governor as ‘anti-choice.’ This decision will harm women who choose to start a family. Michigan women deserve better.”

The following is a summary of the state budget items of interest to MCC that were included in the final Fiscal Year 2023 budgets:

Supporting Pregnant Mothers in Need

  • $4.4 million for diaper assistance grants to agencies that distribute diapers for free.

Protecting Life

  • $1 million for the state to contract with a public university to provide training, technical assistance, and evaluations tied to local strategies to reduce and eliminate violence in schools, including gun violence.

Promoting Adoption & Foster Care

  • Maintains not less than a $55.20 administrative rate for providers of foster care.
  • Increases adoption subsidies and provides a 20% increase to foster family maintenance payment rates.
  • Boilerplate requiring the state to explore allowing foster care maintenance payments to continue throughout a child’s adoption process.

Education

  • $18 million in school safety funding through per-pupil funding to nonpublic schools.
  • $3 million for dual enrollment of nonpublic high school students obtaining college credits.
  • $1 million for health and safety reimbursements to nonpublic schools.
  • $10,000 Future Educator fellowships for students attending public or private college teacher prep programs, provided they subsequently teach in a public or nonpublic school.
  • $9,600 student teacher stipend paid to the public or private college teacher prep program to offset costs of student teachers working in a public school.
  • Tuition Grant/Tuition Incentive programs funded as requested by MCC and the Michigan Association of Independent Colleges & Universities.
  • “Grow Your Own” funding to public schools to encourage existing staff to obtain teaching degree. Recipient must subsequently teach in the school. If a position is not offered, the recipient may then teach in a nonpublic school.
  • Stem cell research reporting by colleges restored to budget language.

Providing for the Poor

  • Maintains $7.23 million for the annual clothing allowance.
  • Maintains the Heat and Eat program to assist eligible residents with energy and food costs.
  • Maintain at least $19 per diem rate per bed night for emergency homeless shelter programs.
  • $50,000 for caseworkers to provide immediate assistance (food, clothing) to child trafficking survivors and children removed from dangerous environments.

Fighting Human Trafficking

  • $1 million to create a human trafficking victims services expansion pilot program.
  • $250,000 for county grants toward anti-human trafficking collaboratives.
  • Provides an additional 3 months of food assistance for human trafficking/domestic violence victims.

Maintains $170,000 to fund the state’s human trafficking commission and $200,000 for human trafficking intervention services.



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