As the start of 2023 Maryland legislative session approaches, many Maryland families continue to face a wide range of challenges, from struggling to afford basics like food and housing to difficulty finding affordable and reliable child care. For Maryland families and communities to thrive, it is critical that legislators continue to prioritize bills that strengthen economic security and improve the wellbeing of children and families. The Maryland Center on Economic Policy (MDCEP) will be working with partners to support bills that would better the lives of Maryland’s children and families.
Expanding and Making Earned Income Tax Credit Permanent
At a time of high inflation and the possibility of a recession, it is vital that working families, especially low- and moderate-income families, get the financial assistance they need in order to meet their needs. Tax credits have proven to be a valuable tool to reduce poverty by helping working families afford their basic needs. Since people of color, women and immigrants are overrepresented in low-paid jobs, the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is an important tool for advancing equity. This is why this upcoming session we will be supporting efforts to make the 2021 expansions of the EITC permanent. These expansions increased the size of the credit for all recipients and ensured all taxpayers who are eligible based on their income can receive the credit, regardless of immigration status.
Strengthening the Child Tax Credit
The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is another tool that helps families reduce economic hardship, bolster the economic security of low- and middle-income families and position the next generation for success. It has shown to help improve the lives of children. In 2021 as part of the federal government’s American Rescue Plan, Congress expanded and improved the federal CTC to ensure very low-income families who had previously received no credit or small partial credit were made eligible for full credit. It restored eligibility for immigrant children who had been excluded as part of the Trump tax bill in 2017 and raised credit for children ages 6 and over to $3,000 and for children under 6 to $3,600 (an increase from $2,000). This benefited 1,194,000 children in Maryland but significantly among those were 353,000 children who had partly or fully been excluded from CTC because their parent’s income was too low. A majority of these children were children of color. This expanded version of the Federal CTC proved to be successful in reducing child poverty and lifted more than 50,000 children in Maryland from poverty.
Unfortunately, this federal CTC expansion was temporary and allowed to lapse in 2022. In 2021 the Maryland General Assembly created very a modest state CTC for families with a child under 17 who has a disability. The goal this coming session is to support bills that further strengthen and expand it by increasing the family income cap, increasing the benefit level, and including more children.
Time to Care Act
Last session the Maryland General Assembly passed the Time to Care Act. Once fully implemented in 2025, this program will provide all Maryland workers with up to 12 weeks of annual paid leave to welcome a new child or allow them to tend to their own medical needs or that of a family member with serious illness. A parent can also get up to 24 weeks should medical leave be needed during pregnancy followed by parental leave after child birth. This session we will be looking to support legislation that would clarify some aspects of the law and ensure that the new leave program is as effective as possible.
Blueprint for Maryland’s Future
The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, passed in 2021, represented a historic investment in Maryland public schools. State and local education departments are continuing to update curriculum and policies to align with the goals of the law. While we do not expect legislation in regard to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, we will be monitoring its budget allocation, the Accountability and Implementation Board that is overseeing the implementation process, and local school board actions to ensure the law meets its intended goal of providing a great education to every child in Maryland, no matter their ZIP code.
Child care is an area in which we anticipate legislation this session as both child care providers and families continue to face significant challenges because of the effect the COVID-19 pandemic had on the industry. We intend to support bills that would help provide support to families who can’t afford care on their own and ensure providers are able to begin increasing capacity again to meet families’ care needs.
You can learn more about MDCEP’s work by going to www.mdeconomy.org. MDCEP is Maryland's KIDS COUNT partner. To find more data of how children are faring in Maryland you can view the KIDS COUNT Data Center.
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