NC JUSTICE NEWS: Save the EITC + Child Care Subsidies + Defenders of Justice Awards

March 5, 2013

EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT: Why the state credit is worth saving

This afternoon, the North Carolina Senate voted on and passed a bill that would reduce the value of the state Earned Income Tax Credit, a modest but stabilizing support for taxpayers who work but earn low-incomes.

Here are a couple of facts about the EITC. Nearly 907,000 hardworking North Carolinians claimed the credit in 2011 in each of the state’s 100 counties. The credit helps boost the power of the federal EITC, which lifted 5.7 million Americans out of poverty last year — 3.1 million of whom were children.

All of these facts make maintaining the EITC seem like a no-brainer and yet it appears state lawmakers are determined to pass a bill that would result in a tax shift to low-earning families. Instead, lawmakers should be keeping the EITC as a central part of any revenue plan and to not reduce the credit. More than ever, it's a critical tool for rebuilding a strong middle class in our state.

What does it do? For starters, it leverages the federal credit to serve as an important anti-poverty tool. It also offers these workers a credit to offset their total state and local tax contributions, and serves to address North Carolina’s upside-down tax code, which asks from those with the least a greater share of their income in state and local taxes than from the wealthiest North Carolinians.

In short, the EITC is a crucial piece of the tax reform puzzle. And more importantly, it's used by many North Carolinians as a means to purchase life’s basic necessities, such as food and gas. Money is pumped back into local communities as families spend the credit on goods. In these tough economic times, the EITC supports work.

CHILD CARE SUBSIDIES: Slashed funding could strand low-income children

A new report from NC Policy Watch shows that more than 1,000 low-income children could lose their spots in daycare and after-school care programs by this summer as money for child-care subsidies dries up across the state. Investigative reporter Sarah Ovaska writes:

"The child-care slots for 1,226 North Carolina children in 10 counties are at risk of being cut off because counties contending with budget cuts to the program are on pace to exhaust their allocated funds, according to projections from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. More than 3,000 additional children in nine counties have already lost the subsidies, though an infusion of funding put half of those children back into the program.

The loss of 1,000 more slots to child care program could force some parents to leave jobs and quit schooling in order to stay home with their children, said Rob Thompson, the director of the Covenant for North Carolina’s Children, a statewide advocacy group that works on children’s issues. It can leave families at disadvantages over time, with drops in income and training for new jobs put on hold." Read the rest of the article here.

FAITH AND TAXES: Discussion will highlight tax reform and justice

In light of current discussions around changing the state tax code, exactly who will be affected by proposals is of paramount importance to the overall fairness of the tax system.

On Monday, March 18, faith leaders, theologians, divinity students and advocates will join together for a discussion at Wake Forest University on “Faith, Fairness & Taxes.” The event will be hosted by the NC Justice Center, Wake Forest University School of Divinity, Institute for Public Engagement at Wake Forest University, and the NC Council of Churches.

Professor Susan Pace Hamill of the University of Alabama School of Law and a nationally recognized leader on faith and fair taxation will serve as the keynote speaker. Hamill has served as Professor of Law at the university since 1994, focusing on tax law, business, and ethics. She has a J.D. from Tulane University and a masters in theological studies from the Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, and has been featured in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal for her work on state and local tax law, and how it relates to faith.

COMMUNITY FORUM: Insurance Exchange, impact of no Medicaid expansion

Medicaid expansion would increase health care access to 500,000 working poor. It would also provide reimbursement to hospitals for uncompensated care and create an estimated 23,000 health care industry jobs. Despite these figures, North Carolina lawmakers have voted to block Medicaid expansion. What can we do now? How will the Insurance Exchange work?

Please join us for a community forum in Asheville on Medicaid expansion and the Insurance Exchange on March 14, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. in the Mountain View Room at the Sherrill Center, UNC-Asheville. Panelists will include Shannon Dowler, Chief Medical Officer, Blue Ridge Community Health Services; Jaclyn Kiger, Attorney, Pisgah Legal Services; Allison Rice, Senior Attorney, Duke AIDS Legal Project and Adam Searing, Director, NC Justice Center’s Health Access Coalition.

The event is hosted by Western North Carolina AIDS Project and community partners: ABIPA, Children First/Communities in Schools, Just Economics, Pisgah Legal Services, Planned Parenthood of Asheville, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, WNC Community Health Services and WNC Health Advocates.

CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER CARE: Community event in Albemarle

Join the NC Justice Center and AARP NC on Tuesday, March 19 for a Campaign for Better Care community meeting at the Stanly County Senior Center in Albemarle and make your voice heard on one of the most important, complex issues in North Carolina today.

As the Affordable Care Act is implemented in NC, a crucial part, Medicaid, may be blocked by the NC General Assembly from being expanded so 500,000 currently uninsured working adults in North Carolina will not be able to get coverage. Join us to discuss what suggestions you have for changes in our health care system while you learn from representatives from the US Department of Health and Human Services, AARP, Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) and the NC Justice Center.

The free event will be held from 11:30am – 1:00 pm at the Stanly County Senior Center, 283 North Third Street, Albemarle, NC.

To reserve your seat, contact the Senior Center at 704-986-3769 or bweemhoff@stanlycountync.gov or Nicole Dozier at nicole@ncjustice.org or 919-856-2146.

DEFENDERS OF JUSTICE AWARDS: Save the Date - May 9

Join the NC Justice Center on Thursday, May 9 for the 15th Annual Defenders of Justice Awards. Each year, the Justice Center presents its DOJ Awards to honor individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions in the fight against poverty in four areas that reflect the scope of the Justice Center’s work.

The 2013 honorees are:

  • Legislative Advocacy: Wayne Goodwin, NC Commissioner of Insurance
  • Litigation: Phil Lehman, NC Office of the Attorney General and Mortgage Foreclosure Unit, Legal Aid of NC
  • Policy Research and Advocacy: Equality NC
  • Grassroots Empowerment: A. Philip Randolph Institute

The event will be held at the Carolina Club at UNC Chapel Hill's George Watts Hill Alumni Center. Stay tuned for more details on tickets and sponsorship opportunities.
 

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