As the 2005 session of the state Legislature gets under way, Minnesota Bishops have issued a statement calling for “fair and equitable” income tax increases to provide for the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable citizens.
In a pastoral statement, the bishops have asked lawmakers not to make any more funding cuts in human service programs to balance the budget. Minnesota Catholic Conference spokeswoman Kate Crissik says they believe raising revenue “justly and fairly” is the best way to invest in human needs.
“The reason that they have done this is because they have seen, in their own communities, the impacts of the budget cuts, and the increase service fees that have been charged to individuals and property tax increases. And, they are very concerned about people in their communities who have been hardest hit by these cuts,” she said.
The bishops are concerned policymakers will make more cuts to human service programs, including health care, to close this year’s expected budget deficit of $1.4 billion (adjusted for inflation).
Cuts to state funded programs and services impact the poor, elderly and ill, said Bishop Victor Balkey of the Crookston diocese, and Minnesotans have a moral responsibility to help those less fortunate.
“We truly and deeply believe in the personal dignity of every human being,” he said. “And, when people are hurt by such cuts as the state made, we have to speak out for them. We are their voice, so that they do not go unheard.”