Make your voice heard to protect the poor and vulnerable at state, federal levels Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Mar. 24, 2011 -- 12:00 AM

Catholics represented at the Capitol

The WCC represents Catholics at our state Capitol, often testifying at hearings to give input from Catholic teaching on bills being considered by our state legislature. The WCC publishes a regular “Capitol Update” during every legislative session, including notices about upcoming hearings and new bills of interest.

For example, the most recent “Capitol Update” discusses Governor Scott Walker’s budget for the 2011 to 2013 biennium, including his proposed cuts in state spending to close the over $3 billion gap between current spending and revenues.

As we know, the proposed budget cuts are significant. They reduce aid to local school districts by about $800 million below current levels. Most state agencies will see a 10 percent reduction in operational costs.

There are proposals involving to cut back health services for seniors, welfare payments, child care subsidies, and tuition for immigrants at the schools in the University of Wisconsin system. The budget proposes repealing the mandate that health insurers must include coverage for contraceptive services in any policy offered. Under the current mandate, Catholic dioceses were forced to include coverage for these morally objectionable services.

To keep abreast of what’s happening at the state Capitol, go to the Wisconsin Catholic Conference Web site at To find out who your state legislators are, go to

Examine how proposed cuts affect the poor

At both the state and national levels, the Catholic bishops are especially encouraging members of the Church to examine the spending cuts being proposed. The bishops say that fiscal responsibility is important and it requires shared sacrifice.

But they also emphasize that we must be concerned for poor persons at home and abroad in our budget deliberations. The voices of poor and vulnerable people are often not being heard in the debate. However, the poor may also bear the brunt of the proposed cuts at a disproportionately higher level than those of middle or higher incomes.

On the federal level, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is especially concerned about proposed cuts in job training programs, Head Start, emergency food and shelter, affordable housing, and care for migrants and refugees. On the international level, there is a proposal to cut $875 million from International Disaster Assistance.

What can we do?

I encourage people to call, write, or e-mail your elected representatives at the state and federal levels. Remind them that although we do need to be fiscally responsible, we should also promote the common good and welfare of all of our people. The poor and vulnerable should not bear the greatest burdens in overcoming our budget deficits.

We need shared sacrifice across all income levels. And my suggestion: let’s implement cost-cutting over several years and not try to erase the deficit in one fell swoop!

On the national level, call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. To find contact information for your senators, visit the USCCB Office of Government Relations Web site at

Help others understand that budget cuts should not disproportionately hurt the poor and vulnerable in our country and throughout the world.