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Past Legislative and Budgetary Priorities
Catholic Charities is back in Annapolis for the 2019 Maryland General Assembly legislative session.
Inspired by our values to teach and to work for justice, we are focused on the following priorities:
Time to care
It can be hard to take time off, even though people are healthier when workers take time to care for themselves or a loved one. We are advocating for legislation that establishes a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program. This program would make paid leave available to Maryland workers for up to 12 weeks following the birth or adoption of a child and when needed to provide care for a family member or oneself. The leave would be funded through an insurance pool, into which workers and their employers contribute. The fact that it would be paid leave, and its funding structure, are what make it different from the existing FMLA program.
Child support changes
With a specific focus on low-income families, Catholic Charities advocates for tweaks to the program that will take into account both the custodial and noncustodial parents’ circumstances. This is so that what a judge orders as payment can be realistic enough that payment will be made. Right now, sometimes ordered payments are so much higher than a payer can afford that he or she simply doesn’t pay at all. A more realistic order may result in more frequent payments, rather than few or none. Legislation will be introduced this session to implement those recommendations.
The budget is the moral document of the state. It outlines the priorities of our society. When Gov. Larry Hogan’s appropriation is released on Friday, Jan. 18, our team will be ready to evaluate how it will affect the funding Catholic Charities receives from the state and the benefits our clients receive. Specifically, we’re watching Medicaid provider rates, funding of the Temporary Disability Assistance Program, and funding for the Homeless Youth Grant program.
A significant portion of the Advocacy Department’s work is focused on the State’s budget. For the FY 2018 budget, Catholic Charities prioritized the following:
- Ensuring that Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) and Food Supplement Program (FSP, known nationally as SNAP) benefit levels, when combined, are at least 61% of the Maryland Minimum Living Level, as required in statute.
- Increasing the Temporary Disability Assistance Program (TDAP) by $10/month, the first increase in over 15 years.
- Increases in provider rates so for community service providers, including Medicaid, Foster Care and Developmental Disabilities.
The Healthy Working Families Act
This bill passed, but was vetoed by Governor Hogan.
Sponsors: Senator Middleton and Delegate Clippinger
Bill Numbers: SB 230/HB 1
Catholic Charities’ workforce development programs strive to place clients in full-time benefit eligible jobs with a salary over $10.00 an hour that allow the employee to earn paid time off. It is this type of “good job” that will help families build economic stability and transition out of poverty. The earned sick time bill would enable workers to earn a limited number of annual paid sick and safe days from their employer and would be a positive step for the State in its struggle to end poverty.
Keep the Door Open for Behavioral Health Providers
This bill was incorporated into the HOPE Act, which was passed and signed by the Governor.
Sponsor: Senator Guzzone and Delegate Hayes
Bill Numbers: SB476/HB580
Community behavioral health providers are the backbone of the public mental health system. Availability of outpatient services prevents costly hospitalizations. However, community behavioral health providers have only seen 6 modest rate increases in the last 19 years. This bill would provide rate relief into the future so that our community providers, including Catholic Charities, can keep their doors open.
Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit
This bill did not pass the General Assembly
Sponsor: Senator Madaleno and Delegate Hixson
Bill Number: SB 14/HB 2
The Maryland Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a common sense tax credit that helps people make ends meet and stay in their jobs despite low wages. The EITC benefits families, communities, and local economies. However, under current law, a worker who is not claiming any dependents must be between the ages of 25 and 64 to claim the tax credit. The credit also is insufficient for minimum wage workers trying to move up the economic ladder. This bill would allow 18-24 year olds without dependents to claim the credit, increase eligibility for the credit to 200% of the Federal Poverty Line, and would also increase the credit amount.