MILWAUKEE – Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki reiterated his opposition to a provision in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget that would remove rent-to-own businesses from jurisdiction of the Wisconsin Consumer Act, thereby exempting them from having to post annual percentage rates.

The archbishop was one of several religious and civic leaders who spoke against the provision during a press conference Friday, April 26, at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The rent-to-own provision is a concern of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops.

At the press conference, according to text posted on the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s website, the archbishop said the church needed to “speak up when public policies threaten to make people more vulnerable to exploitative practices.”

Citing reports he had received from Catholic Charities agencies in La Crosse and Milwaukee, the archbishop said those living in poverty often pay more for goods and services because they are targeted by businesses that charge higher prices and higher interest rates.

“Our agencies educate clients to compare prices and interest rates – a task made more difficult if the government allows businesses to conceal the true cost of an item by not disclosing the annual percentage rate,” Archbishop Listecki said. “Simply put, public policies should not encourage businesses that depend on financial ignorance and debilitating debt.”

In urging legislators to remove the rent-to-own provision from the budget, the archbishop said, “In the words of Pope Francis, ‘Do not forget the poor.’”