Child Tax Credit is changing lives

Child Tax Credit is changing lives

The American Rescue Plan Act made America’s Child Tax Credit much more effective at fighting child poverty: It increased the size of the benefit, made it available to the poorest families in the nation and started paying it out in monthly installments instead of one lump sum. With these changes set to expire in December and Congress debating the shape of the program under the Build Back Better plan, new data is showcasing how the credit is helping families to survive and lifting kids out of poverty, nationwide. Phil McCausland of NBC News reports on how extra monthly income supports family budgets and has little effect on the labor market: 

Advocates and economists note […] that a positive impact is already evident, pointing to data that appears to show a major dent in the nation’s childhood food insecurity and poverty rates since monthly payments started going out in July. Reversing those rates could cause nationwide economic benefits. An ongoing analysis by Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy has found that 3 million children were raised out of poverty by the first payment and an additional 500,000 children were lifted out upon the second payment. That’s already a 29 percent reduction in August’s child poverty rate compared to what it would have been without the tax credit, the most recent Columbia study concluded.

People over politics 
Every 10 years, states and local governments are required to redraw the boundaries of voting districts for elected positions. Redistricting is intended to ensure that everyone has adequate representation as populations shift over time. But too often the redistricting process lets politicians pick their voters instead of the other way around. Omari Ho-Sang of Black Voters Matter and attorney Don Wiener write in the Shreveport Times that it’s time lawmakers prioritize people and communities over partisan politics. 

We all have a duty to hold our legislators accountable, to ensure that fair representation for our community members is not sacrificed to partisan calculation and self-interest. Our next set of electoral maps must represent everyone, upholding the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection and complying with the requirements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Too often, politicians have abused the redistricting process to manipulate the outcome of elections and protect their own incumbency.

Citizens can make their voices heard on the issue starting next week in Shreveport, where the House and Senate Governmental Affairs committees begin a statewide series of hearings to get citizen input. 

When student loan repayment starts 
During the pandemic, families struggling with student loan debt got a
welcome reprieve, as student loan payments have been deferred since March 2020. Even though our economy has not yet fully recovered, repayments are scheduled to start again in February, meaning many borrowers will once again have to choose between paying back their student loans and meeting basic needs. Rebecca Kelliher reports on what’s next for Diverse Issues in Higher Education

This summer, the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank, conducted surveys that found about 67% of borrowers said it would be difficult to make a payment on their student loans in the next month. Regan Fitzgerald, the manager of the Pew Charitable Trust’s project on student borrower success, said such a high number surprised her given news of the economy picking up compared to the early days of the pandemic. “But while the economy is improving for some, there are many still waiting for that uplift,” she said. “This finding shows that student loans are a fundamental kitchen table issue. There have been so many economic strains on families in this pandemic that once you have an extended period of time with this burden taken off them, the idea of having that bill once more on the list of things to pay out every month is significant.”

Predictable work schedules improve health
Four years ago, Seattle became the second U.S. city to enact a “fair
workweek” law to ensure workers had a decent and predictable weekly
work schedule. A new peer-reviewed study, published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that hourly paid workers were happier, had better sleep and had more economic security when Seattle’s ordinance made their schedules more predictable. James Smith of Harvard’s Kennedy School reports

The research study looked at the impact of the new ordinance during its first two years in effect. The ordinance regulates work schedules in the retail and food service sectors for companies with 500 or more employees worldwide and restaurants with at least 500 employees and 40 outlets. The core finding: “Our paper shows that Seattle’s law not only increased scheduling predictability, but also improved subjective well-being, sleep quality and economic security.” The study notes that the service sector employs nearly one in five American workers.

Programming note
You are invited to join the Louisiana Budget Project and the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice next Tuesday for a conversation about the four
constitutional amendments on the Nov. 13 ballot. Click here to register for the event. Click here to read LBP’s analysis of Amendment 2, and why the tax swap package on the ballot is not tax reform. 

Number of the Day
64% – The percentage of Louisiana’s households that have broadband internet access, compared to 73% nationwide (Source: The Data Center