Conference likes promise by Governor
The public policy agency of Wisconsin's Roman Catholic bishops praised Gov. Scott McCallum's announcement that programs that serve needy families and persons with disabilities will be exempt from budget adjustments to deal with the state's estimated $1.1 billion revenue shortfall.
"The Governor's announcement is a welcome sign that those most in need of the community's help will not endure additional hardship as Wisconsin deals with its budgetary problems," John Huebscher, executive director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference said.
The Governor identified several programs and initiatives he hopes to protect from funding reductions:
Wisconsin's medical assistance and BadgerCare programs for poor families without health care coverage;
the community aids program, which is the primary source of support for county and local programs that serve persons with disabilities and other needs;
the earned income tax credit, which helps lower-income workers;
homeless grants, the state's AIDS program, child welfare services, and pregnancy counseling programs;
the Community Options program and the Community Integration program, both of which keep persons who need assistance living in their communities instead of more costly institutions, and;
Wisconsin Works (W-2), designed to help working poor families avoid dependency on public assistance.
Huebscher noted that community aids and other programs for the needy have increased as much as corrections and education and did not contribute to the revenue shortfall.
McCallum's action also recognizes that those most in need are likely to find it especially difficult in a recession economy, made worse by the events of Sept. 11, Huebscher said.
"The Governor's decision is an example of government exercising a preferential option for the needy in our Wisconsin family," Huebscher said. "For that he deserves everyone's thanks."