Sen. Gounardes to New York Focus: "The Working Families Tax Credit Can Slash Child Poverty"

Originally published in New York Focus on .
Senator Andrew Gounardes speaks at a hearing in the New York State Capitol.

Washington Failed to Expand the Child Tax Credit. Can Albany Get Kids Out of Poverty Instead?

One in five kids in New York live in poverty. Legislators are pushing Hochul to fulfill her promise to cut that rate in half.

One hundred days into her tenure, New York’s self-described “first mom governor” signed a law committing to slash the state’s child poverty rate by half. She had inherited a serious problem: In the decade leading up to Governor Kathy Hochul’s 2021 inauguration, more than seven hundred thousand children in New York, or about one in five, had been living in poverty — including nearly one in three Black and Latino children.

“Alleviating poverty for all New Yorkers — especially our youngest — is a key priority for my administration,” Hochul said the following year.

The state still has a long way to go. New York has the fifth-highest rate of child poverty in the nation, according to the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, or OTDA. Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse are in the top 10 US cities for child poverty, with more than 40 percent of kids living below the poverty line. By an estimate OTDA has used, the policies enacted since 2021 may only reduce child poverty by 7.6 percent by 2031.

With the state budget process now underway, some lawmakers are pushing for a more dramatic shift: an attempt to lift children out of poverty by revamping the state’s tax credits for families. New York Democrats see the effort as a chance to win a battle their national counterparts lost. The federal government temporarily alleviated poverty for millions of kids by expanding the child tax credit early in the pandemic, but when President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats tried to make the change permanent, they couldn’t pass it in a Senate that needed Joe Manchin’s support to overcome Republican opposition.

The Senate provision would mean the state’s poorest families receive hundreds more dollars per child, bringing an estimated 26,000 kids out of poverty and an additional 8,000 kids out of “deep poverty,” according to researchers with the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University. The Assembly boost to the Empire State Child Credit would move about 1,000 kids out of poverty, the researchers estimated.

The Senate modeled its plan after a more ambitious proposal from state Senator Andrew Gounardes, called the Working Families Tax Credit, which would give families a heftier sum. Gounardes is still pushing for his measure, which he estimates would slash child poverty in New York by 20 percent, to be included in the state’s budget.

“This policy would get us a big chunk of the way towards reaching the goal” of cutting child poverty in half, Gounardes said.

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