"Which one of you fathers would give your hungry child a snake if the child asked for a fish?"
The Senate Finance Committee has finalized its work on the state budget. The full Senate votes this Wednesday, June 1. To its credit, the Committee has heard the call of churches and others, and restored some some funding for human services, such as mental health and developmental services.
In further good news, the Senate's recommended budget estimates revenues slightly higher than the House's version.
It's still significantly below the budget proposed by the Governor. Plus, any funds restored came at a cost to other human services and other areas of the budget. See details on the impact on Human Services here.
The budget that Senators take up Wednesday comes with a $32 million "surplus" allocated to the state's "rainy day fund." In addition, if revenues later come in higher than projected, those "surplus" funds will be divided between more for reimbursing hospitals for charitable care that was cut from the budget and the rainy day fund.
In other words, we're banking money while children go hungry today.
Please contact your senator to amend the budget before they vote Wednesday to allocate that so-called "surplus" to meeting basic human needs that have been cut.
But what can I say?
I'm not an expert in budgets!
Religious people can and must bear witness to the fact that it is still raining - to Senators, to congregations, to neighbors and others. Community leaders who know better must resist a persistent myth that churches and charity can replace state cuts. Senators need to know that churches welcome partnership with government to efficiently meet needs, but that they cannot replace government's care for NH's people.
MORE YOU CAN DO:
Vigil with Interfaith Voices Tuesday & Wednesday
Clergy, laity and others continue their vigil at the Statehouse to inspire budget decisions that reflect our best moral judgement. The vigil continues and you are invited as Senate Finance presents the budget to Senate members Tuesday at 1 pm at Room 100 Statehouse, and at 10 am Wednesday for the Senate vote. See Interfaith Voices for a Humane Budget info and schedule here or join their Facebook group.
It's a sign! "NH Can Do Better" lawn signs are available from Council partner NH CARES, an advocacy group for sensible funding for human services. Show your support for doing right in the state budget. Request a lawn sign for your church or residence by contacting Laurel Redden.
SPECIAL BUDGET CONCERN: Prison Privatization
Prison privatization has been adopted as a potential cost-saving measure in this budget. The Council has long opposed privatizing prisons, and especially moving prisoners out of state and away from family and support systems.
An amendment made to the Senate budget establishes a committee to privatize the Dept. of Corrections and directs Commissioner Wrenn to obtain quotes from bidders for up to 600 inmates along with nursing and pharmacy services.
Commissioner Wrenn can accept those proposals and privatize corrections this fall, but he does not have to.
A legislative commission will issue a report on the merits of privatization by Dec. 1 in time for new legislation next January based on those findings. Next term lawmakers could force Wrenn to outsource, but the idea will have gotten in-depth research. Churches would have time to give input to the study commissioners and to lawmakers at legislative hearings in January 2012.
The Council of Churches will monitor this plan and the commission as it goes through the budget conference committee process. We will alert you as your action and attention are needed.
For more information, contact Chris Dornin, chairman, Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform, 228-9610 or by email.
Workshops & Resources Available
on Moral Budgeting
The NH Council of Churches will partner with local NH faith-based social services and ecumenical groups to incarnate Gospel values through advocacy by providing:
June is critical. Be knowledgeable, take action!
Advance civil dialogue and action for justice in your church and community! For more information or to host a presentation for a group in your area, contact Laurel Redden, Public Policy Associate at the New Hampshire Council of Churches, at 425-3855 or email.
NHCC PRIORITY ISSUE: DEATH PENALTY
Contact Senators By Wednesday, June 1
to Oppose Death Penalty Expansion
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to expand the death penalty to include home invasions, HB 147 by a vote of 3-1. The amendment clarifies the circumstances under which it could be applied. The full Senate takes it up Wednesday. From there, the House could choose to accept the bill with the Senate's changes or go into a committee of conference.
Please contact your Senator before Wednesday's vote to urge them not to expand the death penalty in NH.
See NH Council of Churches statement on the death penalty here.
|NH State Legislative Calendar
May 25-June 8: Filing period for Jan.-June 2012 session House bills (Senate has not published 2012 bill introduction calendar)
June 23: 2011 Legislative session ends
June 30: 2012-2013 State Budget Deadline