Dear friends and neighbors,

As the ranking member on the Senate Human Services, Mental Health & Housing Committee, I have had a particularly busy week. Senate Republicans rolled out their budget proposal on Tuesday morning and the bill had a public hearing later that afternoon in the Ways & Means Committee.

While I appreciate the difficult decisions that go into constructing a budget, it did not take me long to recognize that this was not a good budget. My primary role as the ranking member of Human Services is to assess and address the most damaging cuts to the human services safety net.

I was disheartened that this budget proposal makes deep cuts or fully eliminates funding to programs that are serving the most vulnerable, low-income, disabled and marginalized people in our state.

In an effort to draw attention to these critical programs, I offered nine amendments to the budget in the Senate Ways & Means Committee. The Senate Majority rejected all of these amendments.

One amendment I offered would have restored funding to a program that assists those who need temporary help but are not ready to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Click here to watch the speech.

Late Thursday night, the budget proposal came to a vote on the Senate floor (Senate Bill 5048). I offered an amendment that would have restored funding for the Young Adult Shelter Beds program, the Young Adult Housing program, the Homeless Student Stability program, and the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program. It would have restored the TANF Diversion Cash Assistance program, and restored funding for participation in the Aged, Blind, or Disabled program for individuals who are pending approval for federal Supplemental Security Income benefits. Click here to watch the speech.

While the amendment was not successful, I believe my colleagues received the message. We cannot and must not accept a budget that balances at the expense of the most vulnerable in our communities and eliminates critical programs that are changing people’s lives for the better.

The budget passed on a party-line vote of 25 to 24. I voted “no” and explained my vote during the final passage of the bill. Click here to watch the speech.

As the legislative process continues, I will remain steadfast in my role as the ranking member of the Senate Human Services, Mental Health & Housing Committee and will continue to stand up for our human services safety net and all who depend upon its services.