IOWA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE
STATEMENT ON PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE IOWA CONSTITUTION
May 27, 1999

“In a world characterized by growing prosperity for some, and pervasive poverty for others, Catholic teaching proclaims that a basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt. 25: 31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.” (Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions, United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, 1998).

Each and every person is created in the image and likeness of God. The dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society and fundamental to Catholic social teaching. Because of the dignity of the human person, human rights such as housing, education and human services should be protected.

On June 29, 1999, the people of Iowa will be asked to vote on two Constitutional amendments which will change the way the Iowa Legislature makes decisions about raising taxes and appropriating funds. Because of our recognition of the preferential option for the poor and the dignity of the  human person, the Iowa Catholic Conference expresses serious reservations regarding the effect that these amendments may have on the ability of the state to respond to the health, education and human needs of the people of Iowa.

In difficult times, programs designed to meet these needs of the poor are often the most difficult to fund and the easiest to curtail. Requiring a super-majority (60%) of the Legislature to implement a tax increase and restricting the funds available for appropriation each year, these amendments make it more difficult for the State to respond to the immediate needs of the most vulnerable, even in times of crisis.

The Iowa Catholic Conference is concerned that these amendments might prevent an appropriate government response to the needs of the poor and vulnerable in Iowa. It is our prudential judgment that these amendments could result in serious repercussions adverse to the poor and vulnerable.

May 1999