President Joe Biden recently unveiled his American Families Plan, which, along with his American Jobs Plan, form the basis of his recovery agenda during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of these plans is to address inequities faced by people of color and women, jumpstart recovery and then foster a new era of prosperity for all. By advancing the proposals laid out in the recovery plans and looking for other opportunities to support economic justice—like raising the minimum wage—lawmakers can boost resiliency and opportunity for Georgia families.
The American Families Plan and American Jobs Plan propose several policies to help Georgia families, including:
Help to pay for necessities:
- An extension of the American Rescue Plan’s temporary expansion of the Child Tax Credit, which will reduce child poverty by more than 40 percent nationwide and benefit over 5 million Georgians and 81 percent of children. This provision will also improve racial equity, as child poverty rates are higher among Black, Indigenous and Latinx children than white children;
- A permanent expansion of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, which will improve economic security for over 600,000 workers with low wages who are not raising children; and
- The permanent creation of the summer nutrition benefit program known as P-EBT that helps Georgia families afford groceries in the summer when children do not get free or reduced-price lunch at school.
More accessible child care:
- Expanding child care subsidies;
- Providing funding to states to make high-quality pre-school available and free for all 3- and 4-year olds;
- Permanently increasing the Child and Dependent Tax Credit; and
- Investing in child care and early education workforce.
The establishment of a permanent paid family and medical leave program.
Better Access to health care
- Making the two-year increase in premium tax credits from the American Rescue Plan permanent to make marketplace coverage more affordable;
- A pathway to coverage for people who are in the “coverage gap” because their state did not adopt the Medicaid expansion. About 270,000 Georgians who make too much to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to get premium tax credits on healthcare.gov would benefit from this pathway; and
- Better pay for workers who help older people and people with disabilities remain in the community with the home- and community-based services they need and funding to expand these services to more people.
More educational opportunities
- Making two years of community college free for students, including working adults who want to update their training and immigrants with DACA status. Two out of three Georgians age 25 and older do not have a bachelor’s degree. Eight percent have an associate degree, and 20 percent have some college but no degree;
- Increasing the maximum value of Pell Grants to make higher education more affordable for students, including immigrants with DACA status. Currently about 228,000 students in Georgia receive federal need-based Pell grants. Georgia is also home to about 20,000 DACA recipients and 44,000 DACA-eligible recipients;
- Grants to states to increase investment in completion and retention strategies at colleges and universities that serve high numbers of low-income students;
- Pursuing reduced tuition at HBCUs and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSI). Georgia is home to seven private and public HBCUs and 19 other MSIs including technical colleges;
- Increased grants to HBCUs and other MSIs to strengthen institutions, including expanding programs in high-demand fields and health care; and
- Supporting future teachers, including early childhood educators, via increased scholarships (for college students) and year-long, paid teacher residency programs (for paraprofessionals and other non-certificated educators), with funding targeted for special education teachers and preparation programs at HBCUs and other MSIs.
These provisions will help Georgians put food on the table, train for the workforce, stay employed and educate our children. The plan includes proposals to help pay for the plan for 15 years by:
- Rebalancing the tax code by more fairly taxing those who earn over $1 million per year on investments;
- Closing various tax loopholes, including the loophole that allows the wealthiest earners to avoid paying taxes on unrealized capital gains;
- Raising the corporate tax rate; and
- Bolstering the IRS with sufficient resources to begin recapturing hundreds of millions of dollars in under-reported and unpaid taxes that should be due to the federal government.
Although the plan is strong, Congress can play a key role in maximizing the plan’s potential by:
- Making the full Child Tax Credit expansion included in the American Rescue Plan permanent to further reduce child poverty;
- Providing more details on how best to improve Unemployment Insurance. If the administration and/or Congress pursue automatic triggers to reinstate federal benefits, should consider disaggregated labor market outcomes to implement it stabilizers, as Unemployment Insurance is often more restrictive in states with larger populations of Black residents, and unemployment rates are traditionally higher for workers of color;
- Further incentivizing states like Georgia that have not yet fully expanded Medicaid;
- Making permanent the improved access to SNAP for college students;
- Raising the minimum wage to a living wage;
- Creating a mechanism to trigger stimulus checks to families during times of economic downturn or recession; and
- Ensuring policies are immigrant-inclusive.