Archives

Uncategorized

by Rebecca Clendenin, Action for Children. 

Yesterday, monumental legislation was signed into being by Governor Mike Easley.  The final state budget included NC Kid's Care and a 3.5% refundable earned income tax credit (EITC), both of which will improve outcomes for children and families across our state.

NC Kids’ Care, which begins on July 1, 2008, will make available affordable health insurance coverage to 38,000 currently uninsured children in families between 200%-300% of the Federal Poverty Line ($42,000-$62,000 per year for a family of four).  Families would participate in the cost of care in the form of deductibles, co-payments and monthly premiums subsidized on a sliding scale based on income.  The NC legislature approved $368,000 to establish administration of the program in the first year, and has agreed to fully fund the Kids’ Care program at $7 million in subsequent years.  This expansion of health insurance means that thousands more children will become eligible for affordable health coverage.

Additionally, the NC General Assembly adopted a 3.5% NC refundable EITC.  The EITC will give a tax credit to more than 825,000 working North Carolinians at the time they file their state tax returns.

Action for Children hopes that this marks a first step in providing even more needed supports for our working families.

Uncategorized

Last week progressives in three states passed legislation that addresses living wages, state EITC and mental health parity.

We can do itMaryland approved the first-in-the-nation living wage bill. HB430, sponsored by Del. Herman Taylor, requires state contractors to pay employees a living wage. The bill creates a two-tier system: wages in urban areas will be at least $11.30 per hour; wages in rural areas will be at least $8.50 per hour. Maryland’s minimum wage is the same as North Carolina’s, $6.15 per hour.

New Mexico’s Governor Bill Richardson signed a bill creating a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) worth 8% of the federal EITC. HB 436 introduced by Rep. Ben Lujan will help low-income working families in New Mexico.

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed a bill broadening the state’s mental health parity law. The bill, HB1460 sponsored by Rep. Shay Schual-Berke, will require health insurers to offer mental health coverage that is equitable to medical coverage to small businesses and individuals. A 2005 mental health parity law already covered employees of large companies.

News of these bills passed by other states leaves me wondering, if they can do it, why can’t North Carolina?

This session, legislators are considering HB51, which provides a 10% of the federal EITC, as well as a mental health parity bill (SB1434). These bills would go a long way to improving life for half a million North Carolina families who are struggling financially. Other states are proving that it is not too costly to provide living wages, Earned Income Tax Credits or mental health parity. We can do it too!