We want Nebraska to be a place where all kids have the best possible opportunity to succeed. With the growing number of kids living in poverty and ongoing disparities in poverty rates for children of color, it is clear that we still have work to do in meeting this goal. As the 2015 Legislative Session gets underway, we hope that there will be opportunities to increase the financial stability of working families. Our Kids Count Commentary this year will delve further into the data and recommendations for Nebraska’s working families, but here’s a quick snapshot of some of the things that might be on the horizon for economic stability in 2015:
- We can expect an ongoing discussion on taxes. Taxes impact children because they help fund things like education and health care services for children who would otherwise be uninsured. We hope any discussion of taxes will include the importance of having adequate revenue to invest in our kids and not place a disproportionate burden on lower income families. Strengthening our state earned income tax credit (EITC) and child tax credit would help working families.
- Our system for accessing public benefit programs, known as AccessNebraska, has been plagued by ongoing issues. We hope that there will be opportunities to make smart investments and develop longer term plans for ensuring that these systems function effectively and efficiently.
- We need to ensure that the structure of our public program supports families in ways that lead to longer term financial security. We hope that there will be efforts made to address the cliff effect in public programs, increase ADC payment rates, and eliminate inefficient and ineffective limits on longer term savings for lower income families.
- Nebraska has much to be proud of with the increase in the minimum wage that was overwhelmingly approved by voters. We can continue working to ensure that we are protecting working families by allowing for flexible schedules and ensuring that workers can take a day off when they are sick.
- An abundance of research makes the case that educational savings accounts have a positive impact on educational attainment for children. Nebraska has a great educational savings program, and we hope that we will have opportunities to innovate in expanding access to savings for Nebraska families.