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FOR THEIR FUTURE, FOR OUR FUTURE
Strengthening American Competitiveness by Ending Child Poverty in the United States
I NTRODUCTION The loss of one person’s potential is a tragedy. The loss of millions’ is a national emergency. Here’s why: America finds itself today in an unprecedented competition for talent, creativity and intelligence. The knowledge-based, high-skilled jobs of the future – jobs that can support a family and drive a community – will be won by those countries that can best realize the potentials of their people. This is a worldwide, cut-throat competition, and everyone is out to win it. Allowing an American child to grow up in poverty makes victory for the U.S. impossible. It may not guarantee the loss of that child’s potential, but it comes awfully close. Because of child poverty, our nation loses out on the talent and ingenuity of millions of people. And precious tax dollars – resources that will be stretched thinner with every passing Baby Boom year – are misdirected: earmarked for prisons and preventable medical interventions, instead of our schools and universities, instead of countless priorities that would strengthen America’s competitive position. If we want to win this global competition, we have to be smarter. And we have to understand that this isn’t an urban problem, a suburban problem, or a rural problem. It’s an American problem. Fixing it does not simply mean strengthening our public education system, though, that is critical. We must acknowledge that there are large numbers of American children, who because of circumstance, are unlikely to be able to take advantage of the best schools or the best teachers. We must acknowledge this reality and do something about it. These children are born staring at a mountain they lack the tools to climb. In Newark, I see it every day: So many children, generation after generation, repeating history. I’ve fought to help end this cycle, and we’ve made headway. Our fatherhood program has helped curb recidivism and strengthened families. Our financial empowerment centers have enabled households to keep more of what they make, and I’ve worked to attract more than $200 million in new investment to Newark’s public schools. But combating poverty is a national problem, and it requires national solutions. This plan is a roadmap for action. It is a plan not only to alleviate the suffering and improve the lives of individuals, but a blueprint for strengthening our competitiveness, for fostering job growth and economic opportunity. In Christ’s admonition to care for the poor, he said, “What you do unto the least of these my brothers, you do unto me.” There are far broader implications today for failing to heed these words. It’s not just about an individual’s soul. It’s about the fate of our nation. In a global competition, equipped with finite resources, the U.S. cannot afford to waste
human capital. We must harness the potential of every American. That means acting on the simple truth that our fates today are tied together in unprecedented ways. T HE C HALLENGE Make no mistake: Child poverty is a national epidemic that affects kids in every town in New Jersey. It is linked to higher rates of asthma, diabetes, obesity, and crime, as well as lower test scores,1 graduation rates, and earnings.2 Once concentrated in our cities, child poverty is both spreading to our suburbs and growing statewide. It has increased 25 percent across New Jersey since 2007,3 with marked increases in many smaller cities and towns. Nationally, child and adult poverty rose by nearly two thirds in the suburbs between 2000 and 2011, over twice the rate in cities.4 In New Jersey, some rural and suburban counties have seen child poverty rates increase more than 100 percent since 2007.5 It has been estimated that child poverty costs the U.S. $500 billion annually—nearly 4 percent of GDP.6 This tally includes tens of billions of dollars lost to the associated costs of crime, increased health expenditures, and foregone productivity.7 On top of costing taxpayers and failing our moral obligations, New Jersey cannot compete economically if it leaves behind more of our future workforce each year. There will always be other states, and other countries, willing to work for less. We—both New Jersey and the United States—win not by being cheaper, but by being better. We win by offering the finest workforce in the country, at the center of the global economy. We must make eradicating child poverty and its effects a national mission. Fortunately, it is entirely within our power. The United States cut poverty nearly in half in a single decade
Richard J. Murnane. “Improving the Education of Children Living in Poverty,” 17 The Future of Children 161-82 (2007), http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/foc/summary/v017/17.2murnane.html. 2 Susan Popkin, “Treating the Disease of Childhood Poverty,” The Urban Institute (May 29, 2013), http://blog.metrotrends.org/2013/05/treating-disease-child-poverty/. 3 Advocates for Children of New Jersey, New Jersey Pocket Guide: The State of Our Counties (2013), http://www.acnj.org/admin.asp?uri=2081&action=15&di=2514&ext=pdf&view=yes (between 2007-2011, poverty increased by 27% in New Jersey). 4 Poverty rates in cities increased by 29% and by 64% in suburbs between 2000-2011. Brad Plumer, “Poverty Is Growing Twice As Fast in the Suburbs As in Cities,” Washington Post (May 23, 2013), http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/23/poverty-is-nowgrowing-twice-as-fast-in-the-suburbs-as-in-the-city. 5 Child poverty rates increased by 102% in Cape May County, 124% in Hunterdon County, and 129% in Somerset County between 2007-2011. See New Jersey Pocket Guide, supra note 3. 6 Harry J. Holzer et al., “The Economic Costs of Poverty in the United States: Subsequent Effects of Children Growing up Poor,” Center for American Progress (2007), http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/poverty/report/2007/01/24/2450/the-economic-costs-ofpoverty/.
7 Id. at pg. 1
from 1959 to 1969.8 If given the opportunity to be your Senator, I will make eliminating child poverty the moral and economic priority it must be for New Jersey and the U.S. to continue leading the world. T AKING A CTION I. Support strong families, affordable housing, and work that pays a. Make work pay; and b. Support adequate, geographically diverse affordable housing; and c. Promote family success by supporting the involvement of two parents, gay or straight, in their child’s life, and providing robust assistance to the heroic work of single parents. II. Improve health and nutrition a. Deliver seamless health coverage that starts in the womb to every child, with a focus on preventing costly chronic conditions before they develop; and b. Ensure access to nutrition for every child, and improve available food choices so parents and children can make healthier decisions. III. Provide world-class early care and education a. Provide universal access to high-quality preschool for children ages 3-5; and b. Make sure that every child has the opportunity to attend a world-class public school with strong social supports and competitive, 21st-century standards. IV. Provide Affordable College and Post-Secondary Career Training Options a. Reverse Congress’s recent failure to keep federal student loan rates from doubling; and b. Start college and professional / technical school trust accounts for children in Earned Income Tax Credit households.
U.S. Census Bureau, Number in Poverty and Poverty Rate: 1950 to 2010, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/incpovhlth/2010/figure4.pdf.
STRONG SUPPORT, HIGH EXPECTATIONS Every child in New Jersey and across America should grow up in a strong family and community, receive excellent nutrition and healthcare, and have access to high-quality pre-K and world-class public schools. We should give every child a strong foundation and make crystal clear that with strong support comes high expectations. The weight of America’s future challenges, ranging from international competition to growing out of our deficit by creating a stronger economy, rests on their shoulders. I. STRONG FAMILIES, AFFORDABLE HOUSING, AND WORK THAT PAYS Strong families and communities are the bedrock of success, yet too many kids grow up in surroundings without the support they need. To strengthen our families and communities, we should: a. Make work pay. Work doesn’t work for many of our families and communities, robbing both of the support they need and providing our children less incentive to study hard and stay in school. The $7.25 minimum wage does not come close to supporting an adequate standard of living in most places, including in New Jersey. • Create pathways out of low-wage work by making sure jobs supported by federal funds, like those in health care and child care, offer a real career track upward, with decent wages and opportunities for training and advancement.9 Pass The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which, among other reforms, will raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour over two years. If the minimum wage had tracked productivity growth since 1968, it would be over $21 per hour.10 Studies have found that for every dollar increase in the minimum wage, spending by households with minimum wage workers increases by $2,800 a year.11 One study found that this legislation, specifically, would generate more than $32 billion
Jacob S. Hacker & Nate Loewentheil, Prosperity Economics: Building an Economy for All (2012), http://www.goiam.org/images/pdfs/Hacker%20-%20Prosperity%20Economics.pdf. 10 Nick Hanauer, “The Capitalist’s Case for a $15 Minimum Wage,” Bloomberg News (June 19, 2013), http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-19/the-capitalist-s-case-for-a-15-minimumwage.html. 11 Daniel Aaronson, Sumit Angarwal & Eric French, “The Spending and Debt Response to Minimum Wage Hikes,” Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (Feb. 2011), http://www.chicagofed.org/webpages/publications/working_papers/2007/wp_23.cfm.
in GDP growth.12 Bolster the Earned Income Tax credit (EITC) by reducing its “marriage penalty,” in which a single parent’s credit may decrease once she or he marries and files a joint tax return. Expanding the eligibility range by $5,000 for married filers would substantially reduce the penalty. The EITC benefits nearly 600,000 households in New Jersey and each year lifts about 3 million children out of poverty nationally – more than any other federal program.13
b. Support adequate, geographically diverse affordable housing, and do more to help families facing foreclosure. Affordable housing is the foundation of strong families and communities. Yet, in many towns, hard-working New Jerseyans cannot afford a home without spending over a third of their income on rent or mortgage payments.14 Residents of affordable homes have the means to support a family and purchase goods and services in their communities. • Preserve and expand federal housing programs like Section 8 that make housing more affordable for thousands of New Jersey families, and improve enforcement of anti-discrimination laws that too often fail to protect tenants using Section 8 vouchers from being turned away from wealthier and geographically diverse communities. Expand affordable housing options with convenient access to urban areas by public transit, so that young professionals, empty-nesters, and workers can afford a home in New Jersey’s more affluent towns, which can develop greener, denser, more vibrant downtowns in the process. In low-income suburbs only a quarter of jobs in metro areas
are accessible via transit in less than 90 minutes. 15
The Federal Housing Finance Agency should immediately take steps to approve principal reductions in underwater mortgages held by
David Cooper and Doug Hall, “Raising the Federal Minimum Wage to $10.10 Would Give Working Families, and the Overall Economy, A Much-Needed Boost.” Economic Policy Institute Briefing Paper (March 13, 2013), http://www.epi.org/publication/bp357-federal-minimum-wageincrease/ 13 581,000 households in New Jersey receive EITC benefits. Chuck Marr, Jimmy Charite & Chye-Ching Huang, “Earned Income Tax Credit Promotes Work, Encourages Children’s Success at School, Research Finds,” Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (Apr. 9, 2013), http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3793. 14 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “Affordable Housing” (May 9, 2013), http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/affordablehousing/. 15 Confronting Suburban Poverty, “Infographic: What’s Driving the Rapid Rise of Poverty” (May 17, 2013), http://confrontingsuburbanpoverty.org/wpcontent/uploads/2013/05/Brookings_Toolkit_National-Infographic.jpg.
Mac and Fannie Mae. Negative equity is the single greatest cause of mortgage delinquency and Fannie and Freddie should play a leadership role in helping homeowners stay in their homes. The federal government should also help support community development finance institutions and nonprofit community banks to compete in the secondary mortgage markets. We can help homeowners most in need by appropriating additional Hardest Hit Funds (HHF) to acquire distressed home mortgages. Building on FHA's Distressed Asset Stabilization Program, HUD and the U.S. Treasury can incentivize portfolio and private-label security mortgage holders to auction distressed mortgages at deep discounts to face value. The social purpose buyers can pass the discounts on to homeowners as well as invest funds in housing and financial counseling to make sure owners get and stay out of future trouble. Finally, the federal government should restore funding to the network of nonprofit foreclosure counselors who are the front line of defense to predators and scam artists preying on desperate homeowners. Funding for these groups has paled in comparison to the scale of the problem and additional funding can go a long way to mitigate the damage of the crisis.
c. Promote family success by supporting the involvement of two parents, gay or straight, in their child’s life, and providing robust assistance to the heroic work of single parents. • Work towards participation by two parents, regardless of sexual orientation, in children’s lives. Nationwide, over 40 percent of births are to unmarried women.16 One parent is often enough, and countless single mothers and fathers do the job of raising a child as well or better than two-parent households despite the serious challenges of raising a child alone. That said, two sets of hands—and two paychecks—is usually better, especially for families juggling several jobs and struggling to make ends meet. The federal government should support the expansion of successful local initiatives like Newark’s Fatherhood Program, which engages more fathers in the lives of their children. It is never too late for lapsed fathers and mothers to reengage.
Where single parent or grandparent households remain, work to support them. In Newark, for example, we started a program to provide resources and counseling to grandparents raising grandchildren. The federal government should provide funding to support existing programs and incentivize their growth and proliferation.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Unmarried Childbearing” (Jan. 18, 2013), http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/unmarry.htm (In 2010, 40.8% of all births were to unmarried women.).
II. HEALTH AND NUTRITION Few things slow a child’s development more dramatically than chronic disease, and few conditions predict a lifetime of challenge more reliably than childhood obesity. Making sure our future parents, workers, and leaders are healthy is the most basic step to ensuring future prosperity. To do so, we should: a. Deliver seamless health coverage that starts in the womb for every child and prevents costly chronic conditions before they develop. About one in 10 New Jersey kids lacks health insurance, nearly quadruple the rate in Massachusetts and almost double the rate in Connecticut.17 Even for those with coverage, over a quarter of children in Medicaid experienced one or more gaps in coverage over just a three-year period.18 • Expand access to health care through implementation of the landmark Affordable Care Act, and work hard to expand Medicaid enrollment among poor and immigrant communities. By expanding federal funding for education and outreach efforts, particularly for states that regrettably did not opt for state run exchanges, states will be better able to collaborate with community-based organizations and schools to identify and enroll our most vulnerable citizens. The goal is health insurance for every single child; regular doctor visits and preventive care improve health and save money. By way of competitive grants, support the design and implementation of state-level comprehensive performance monitoring systems, similar to Connecticut’s HUSKY independent performance monitoring program, that quarterback the care of every child in Medicaid, making sure they stay enrolled and receive appropriate, effective treatment. Too often, changes in eligibility or life circumstances create gaps in care that allow preventable illnesses to go undetected or untreated. The Connecticut program has also gone a long way to ensure accountability for tax dollars spent on Medicaid.19
As of March 2013, 9.4% of children in New Jersey do not have health insurance, compared to 2.5% in Massachusetts and 5.3% in Connecticut. Children’s Defense Fund, State Data Repository, http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/data/state-datarepository/cits/2013/2013-children-in-the-states-complete.pdf (last updated March 2013). 18 26.7% of children with full Medicaid benefits experienced at least one gap in coverage between 2005-2007. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, “Medicaid Policy Brief” (June 2012), http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Computer-Data-andSystems/MedicaidDataSourcesGenInfo/Downloads/MAX_IB6_EnrollGaps.pdf. 19 Connecticut Voices for Children: “Independent Performance Monitoring in the HUSKY Program: Ensuring Accountability for Scarce State Dollars,” (February, 2013), http://www.ctvoices.org/sites/default/files/h13perfmonitorfacts.pdf
Increase the federal government’s support of Nurse Family Partnerships (NFPs), creating a federal 50 percent matching program to provide NFPs for all first-time, at-risk pregnancies. Such a program, at a 2.5year price tag of $8,580 per pregnancy, would provide intensive athome nurse services to the mother and child from the second trimester until the child’s second birthday. A study funded by the Pew Center estimated the returns of such a program to exceed $73,000 over the life of the child.20 Other studies have shown a reduction in crime of 56 percent for mothers and 16 percent for children; 21 a 48 percent reduction in child abuse and neglect; a 67 percent reduction in behavioral and cognitive problems;22 and a 60 percent decline in infant deaths.23
b. Ensure access to nutrition for every child, and improve available food choices so parents and children can make healthier decisions. Even here in one of America’s richest states, one in eight households do not have enough food, and nearly 400,000 children depend on food stamps.24 And the food that is available tends to be very unhealthy: More than a third of New Jersey kids are overweight or obese,25 and nationally, poor children are almost twice as likely to be obese than children who are not poor.26 Given the choices they face, from the large size of portions to the high sugar and fat content of many foods, it is little surprise so many poor children struggle with weight. These are serious challenges, but we aren’t without options. • Preserve funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps), as well as for free and reduced-price school lunches. The stalled Farm Bill debate, with two sides debating
Ted R. Miller, “Nurse-Family Partnership Home Visitation: Costs, Outcomes, and Return on Investment,” H.B.S.A, Inc. (Sept. 2012), http://www.pewstates.org/uploadedFiles/PCS_Assets/2013/Costs_and_ROI_executive_summary. 21 Washington State Institute for Public Policy, Evidence-Based Public Policy Options to Reduce Future Prison Construction, Criminal Justice Costs, and Crime Rates (2006), http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/rptfiles/06-10-1201.pdf. 22 Nurse-Family Partnership, “Benefits and Costs” (Nov. 2011), http://www.nursefamilypartnership.org/assets/PDF/Fact-sheets/NFP_Benefits-Cost. 23 Miller, supra note 17. 24 Roughly 396,000 children were SNAP program participants in 2012. Advocates for Children of New Jersey, New Jersey Kids Count: The State of Our Children: 2013, http://www.acnj.org/admin.asp?uri=2081&action=15&di=2463&ext=pdf&view=yes. 25 Centers for Disease Control, “New Jersey: State Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Profile,” (Sept. 2012), http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/stateprograms/fundedstates/pdf/New-JerseyState-Profile.pdf (34.3% of New Jersey children are overweight or obese). 26 Nationally, children in low-income families are 1.7 times more likely to be obese. Food Research and Action Center, “Relationship Between Poverty and Overweight or Obesity,” http://frac.org/initiatives/hunger-and-obesity/are-low-income-people-at-greater-risk-foroverweight-or-obesity/ (last visited July 1, 2013).
between bad and worse when it comes to SNAP, is indicative of Congress’s deep misunderstanding of a fundamental truth: That in the
richest nation on earth, not a single child should go hungry—nor can we afford them to. Eradicate food deserts – places without easy access to fresh food, where the main sources of food are convenience stores and fast food restaurants. The problem in New Jersey is enormous: 300,000 of our residents live in more than 100 food deserts.27 We must support proven and promising food access programs, such as Newark’s Fresh Foods Program, and the First Lady’s focus on strategic public-private partnerships to assist underserved neighborhoods. Such initiatives do not only bring healthy fresh foods to food deserts, but also new jobs and economic development to some of our most heavily impacted communities. Engage in a forceful and public dialogue with the food industry focused on how to stem the tide of child obesity. The problem is far bigger than sugary drinks and Happy Meals—it implicates portion sizes, dinner-plate diameters, and sedentary lifestyles, and we must solve it. We must have this conversation, just as I did as co-chair of the First Lady’s Partnership for a Healthier America, and work with the food industry to address this crisis.
III. WORLD-CLASS EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION Healthy children from strong families and communities are a good start, but education is essential. The United States lags most of its peer nations in student achievement,28 and New Jersey lags many of its peer states in educational attainment: Maryland, Connecticut, Colorado, and Massachusetts all boast a greater proportion of high school and college graduates.29 Creating a world-class education system means that we: a. Provide universal access to high-quality preschool for children beginning at age three. High-quality pre-kindergarten education produces huge improvements in the lives of children and extraordinarily high returns on every dollar spent, yet America is one of only a few advanced nations that does not provide universal 30 early education.
“Stranded in ‘Food Deserts,’ Hundreds of Thousands of N.J. Residents Lack Access to Healthy, Fresh Food,” Newark Star-Ledger (Aug. 8, 2011), http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/08/stranded_in_food_deserts_hundr.html (more than 340,000 New Jerseyans live in food deserts). 28 National Center for Education Statistics, Program for International Student Assessment Results: 2009, http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pisa/pisa2009highlights.asp. 29 U.S. Census Bureau, Educational Attainment by State (2012), http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0233.pdf. 30 Hacker & Loewentheil, supra note 11.
Guarantee universal access to preschool, starting at age 3, for every child by 2025. “Universal access” does not mean paying for preschool for families who can already afford it; it means ensuring those who cannot are able to provide that opportunity to their children. A quality pre-kindergarten foundation improves educational and health outcomes for at-risk children and enhances long-term economic productivity.31 Implement a rigorous quality assurance system to hold preschools to the same high standards we expect of the rest of our education system. The early years are when the opportunity for progress is greatest. Our education priorities should reflect that.
b. Make sure every child has the opportunity to attend a world-class public school with strong social supports and competitive, 21st-century standards. Public schools are the chief institution in our country for initiating new citizens and preparing them to succeed in the world. Yet so many of our students are left behind and never given a real chance to participate. • Support competitive grant programs for expanded learning days in low-performing schools. Increased instruction time ensures that teachers have the time they need to close the achievement gap, and has been implemented by many of the most successful schools in lowincome areas. In a study of schools that have extended learning days, over half outperformed district averages by more than 20 percent in Math and/or English.32 Promote the use of competitive federal dollars, like Race to the Top funding, to spur innovation and reform in our schools. These programs encourage schools to adopt a framework of best practices and provide support through funding and metrics-based assessments. Over the past two years, states that received federal Race to the Top funding have adopted innovative STEM education programs, built intensive data systems to enhance classroom instruction, and used teacher evaluations to improve the quality of instruction.
Cynthia Brown et al., “Investing in Our Children: A Plan to Expand Access to Preschool and Child Care,” Center for American Progress (2013), http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education/report/2013/02/07/52071/investing-in-ourchildren/. 32 18 of 30 schools studies outperformed the district average in Math and/or English by more than 20%. See Claire Kaplan & Roy Chan, “Time Well Spent: Eight Powerful Practices of Successful Expanded-Time Schools,” National Center on Time & Learning (2013), http://issuu.com/nationalcenterontimelearning/docs/timewellspent/1?e=0.
IV. Provide Affordable College and Post-Secondary Career Training Options A highly reliable predictor of whether an American is poor is whether his or her parents were poor. Access to higher education offers a pathway out of this cycle. Yet, in the past ten years the cost of tuition at four-year public institutions has increased by 66 percent33 and low-income families now spend the equivalent of 72 percent of their income to pay for one year of higher education.34 a. Congress must reverse its recent failure to keep federal student loan rates from doubling and make post-secondary education more affordable. The current trends make it difficult for most, from the poor to the middle class, to afford college. We must also do more to control costs and offer alternatives. • Act to address Congress’s failure last week, when it allowed Stafford student loan rates to double. This affects all students with federal loans, from the poor to the middle class, and is fundamentally inexcusable. We must do more to ensure that every young child has the resources they need to advance their education. Their success and our economic competitiveness rely upon it. Support President Obama's efforts to link federal funding for campusbased aid programs to college affordability and improvements in education quality. The President's plan provides states with significant financial incentives to curb rising costs and helps ensure that taxpayer dollars go to colleges that are doing as much as possible to provide affordable, high-quality education. Adopt innovative policies that strengthen alternatives to traditional four-year schools, promoting technical training programs and community college.35 By providing credit for online courses and skills acquired outside the classroom we can reward individual initiative, decrease the cost of education, and make college more accessible to students with nontraditional schedules.
b. Start college and professional / technical school trust accounts for children in Earned Income Tax Credit households. We can promote work, deliver the American Dream, and reduce long-term costs to society by making college a reality for millions of low income children.
"The Price of College: A Background Primer," New America Foundation, (2013), http://pnpi.newamerica.net/spotlight/the_price_of_college. 34 "High College Costs, Low Aid Burden Struggling Families," The Education Trust, (2011), http://www.finance.senate.gov/newsroom/chairman/release/?id=16f12ec7-f0db-4e15-95a41aad82db2f8a. 35 "300 Million Engines of Growth," Center for American Progress, (June 2013), http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/report/2013/06/13/66204/300-millionengines-of-growth/.
We should help poor working families plan for college by launching an ambitious college savings trust plan tied to the Earned Income Tax Credit: a $400 per year (tied to inflation), per child deposit, into a trust account that is specifically designated for approved post-secondary college or career education. The deposit would be issued in conjunction with a family’s EITC payment and would need to be accessed within a set time frame following high school graduation. This program will: o Incentivize work by bolstering EITC benefits; and o Promote planning for college or post-secondary professional education in poor households; and o Pay for close to a quarter of an average four-year public college tuition,36 and an even higher share of most technical or vocational training; and o Allow states, localities, philanthropy, and the families and friends of participating children to access up to $100 per year (tied to inflation) of supplemental federal matching funds for accounts, and make supplemental unmatched deposits beyond that.
WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER Child poverty is not an “us versus them” problem, as it has too often been framed. Allowing a single child to fall through the cracks is a catastrophic failure for that child, to be sure, but it also comes at a high cost for everyone in our society. We, in New Jersey and in America, need everyone to pull his or her own weight. Our competitiveness in the world, the strength of our families and communities, our ability to grow our economy out of long-term deficits, and the very question of whether we will offer the American Dream to everyone, depends on how we face the epidemic of child poverty.
The average cost of tuition and fees at public four-year institutions is $8,655. College Board, “In-State Tuition and Fees by State and Sector: 2012-13 and 5-Year Percentage Change,” (2013), http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/state-tuition-and-fees-state-andsector-2012-13-and-5-year-percentage-change. The EITC college tax credit would set aside about $7,200 before a child attends college.
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