The News
2016 Legislature Convenes PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 January 2016 10:18

The 2016 legislative session begins on Monday, January 11. The session is scheduled to last for 60 days, ending Thursday, March 10.   Catholic Advocacy Day is scheduled for Monday, February 8, the beginning of the fifth week. Click here to register for Advocacy Day.

Politically, the House and Senate are narrowly split.  The House Democrats have a 50 to 48 majority and the Senate Republicans are holding a 25 to 24 advantage. This session precedes the 2016 elections when all nine statewide offices, 98 House seats and 25 Senate seats are up for grabs. 

The budget picture is less than certain.  The November 2015 revenue forecast was up by $101 million, but to maintain funding of the budget passed in 2015, $500 million is needed.  The shortfall may have an impact on budget decisions made in this supplemental budget year. The costs associated with the wildfires and caseload increases are two immediate needs that will be funded in the supplemental budget.  It is expected that at least $178 million will be added for wildfire costs and at least $180 million in rising Medicaid caseloads. 

This Legislature must address a variety of court mandates – the largest of which concerns basic education funding.  The state’s Supreme Court decision in McCleary requires full funding of K-12 education by the 2018-2019 school year.  Because this is a supplemental budget session, McCleary may not be addressed in the budget, though a plan to achieve full funding is expected.  There are several court cases that found the State deficient in how it treats those with mental health issues and it is expected the Legislature will continue to work on policies and budget levels to improve these systems. 

Last fall the Supreme Court ruled that charter schools could not receive common school funding because their governing boards are not elected.  Several legislators have indicated a desire to “fix” this issue through alternative funding rather than through the common school budget.  The amount has yet to be quantified.

While dealing with the ramifications of these court cases, the Legislature ironically finds the budget dependent on the courts blocking the implementation of I-1366. This initiative, approved by voters in November, would force a devastating cut of one full percentage point to the state sales tax – amounting to a $1.5 billion loss on April 15th - unless the Legislature places a constitutional amendment on the November ballot.   If approved by voters, the amendment would mandate a super-majority legislative vote to raise taxes.

Bishops Urge End to Raids PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 January 2016 10:15

In light of recent enforcement actions conducted by the Department of Homeland Security for the purpose of deporting 121 individuals, primarily mothers with children, the bishops who chair the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network called for an end to such practices.

In a letter sent to Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, January 11, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration and Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Orange, California, chairman of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., (CLINIC), urged the administration to end such practices that began in early January and have targeted individuals in Georgia, Texas and North Carolina. 

“We find such targeting of immigrant women and children – most of whom fled violence and persecution in their home countries – to be inhumane and a grave misuse of limited enforcement resources,” the bishops wrote.

Bishop Elizondo and Bishop Vann also urged the administration and Congress to adopt long-term solutions such as supporting humanitarian efforts in Central America and addressing the root causes of forced migration.

The full letter is available at this link.

Seeking the Common Good PDF Print E-mail

The Catholic Bishops of Washington State have released a revision of Seeking the Common Good, a WSCC statement issued first in 2003 and updated in 2011. In their role as pastors, the bishops want people to "inform their consciences so that they may establish public policies that work for the good of all, especially the most vulnerable people." The statement lays out several moral principles to help guide the public discussion on how best to meet the needs of society by an equitable sharing of resources.
After reviewing the great needs of poor and vulnerable people, the bishops affirm that "[c]harities and volunteer groups have a responsibility to meet basic human needs in society, but we believe government also shares in this role as many needs cannot be met by individuals and groups." The bishops examine the main revenue sources for state government and state that "all available revenue options must receive careful consideration."
Finally, the bishops pledge "to pray and work with all people of good will to assure that everyone shares in the bounty we have received from God's goodness."  Click here to download the revised statement.

New Prepares Website PDF Print E-mail

Prepares Launches New Website

The Prepares program has launched a new website that will serve parents as well as volunteers. The new site offers an introductory video by the three Bishops, as well as calendars for upcoming classes, and resources organized by diocese. Visit this wonderful new resource and learn about what Prepares offers to young families in your community. 

USCCB & Green Climate PDF Print E-mail

USCCB Urges Support for Green Climate Fund

In his Encyclical, Laudato Sí, On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis calls on Catholics and people of goodwill to acknowledge “the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet” and the need to address climate change. In response to this call, several leaders of national Catholic organizations have asked Congress to fund U.S. contributions to the Green Climate Fund. The leaders are Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski, Chair of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop of Las Cruces Oscar Cantú, Chair of USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, Sr. Donna Markham, OP, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, and Dr. Carolyn Woo, President of Catholic Relief Services. The leaders also called on the U.S. to exercise strong leadership in reaching an agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the upcoming United Nations negotiations on climate change in Paris.

In particular, they called on Congress to:

  • Fund U.S. contributions to the Green Climate Fund, an independent, global fund established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to help poor countries better respond to the challenges of climate change. With this funding, and the collective contributions made by other advanced economies, poor countries will have resources to help them mitigate and adapt to the realities of climate change.
  • Support U.S. leadership in securing a global commitment to curb global greenhouse gas emissions in the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. Climate change is a result of global emissions and it is only through a global accord that humanity can hope to turn the tide against the worst projected impacts of climate change.

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