In his State of the State today, Gov. Tim Pawlenty outlined his Jobs Creation Bill. We applaud efforts to create jobs in Minnesota, and we expect a strong and vigorous debate about the best way to accomplish that. A basic human right, a job provides people with some of the tools they need to move out of poverty, to rebuild families harmed by the economic downturn, to make strong our under-served communities. Done right, any job creation program could reduce poverty and improve the economy.
However — and this is a strong however — we must not develop job creation programs at the expense of programs to support our most vulnerable neighbors. Last spring's unallotment of medical care for the poorest adults creates real and present harm to those affected. We cannot cut childcare subsidies, health care for children or mental health care for our citizens. Any much-needed jobs creation program cannot come at the expense eliminating support for the most basic of human needs.
While we endorse job creation and the need for stable, living wage work, we must remember our obligation to care for the least among us. And in this situation, caring for them means preserving the funding for programs that meet their most basic needs.
We at Catholic Charities understand the need to do more with less. At the same time our contributions dropped 10 percent, we faced a 40 to 90 percent increase in demand for emergency shelter and visits to our food shelves. We couldn't choose to decrease services when they were most needed simply because our income dropped. We made it work. The state must, as well.
The state must figure out how to stimulate job growth and meet people's most basic needs. The strength of our history lies in compassion and innovation.