November 21, 2017 by Ellen Hutton in Blog, Budget and Tax, Economic Opportunity, Education
The tax proposal that passed the U.S. House of Representatives would make it harder for families and students from low-income immigrant families to access tax credits they are legally entitled to. The bill would place new restrictions on the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). These refundable tax credits were created to lift children out of poverty and allow more students to afford the skyrocketing cost of higher education. Restricting access to the Child Tax Credit could harm 67,000 U.S. citizen children in Maryland The children of undocumented immigrants, many of whom are U.S. citizens, will suffer the most under the House tax plan’s requirement that individuals claiming the CTC must use a Social Security number, rather than an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). This change would harm the estimated 67,000 U.S. citizen children with undocumented parents living in Maryland. The CTC reduced or ended…
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November 9, 2017 by Shamekka Kuykendall in Blog, Budget and Tax, Economic Opportunity
Maryland’s success as a state is built on the past policy choices we have made that allow us to invest in the things that make Maryland a good place to live and do business. Maryland’s “trickle-up” economic policies have made our economy stronger as compared to states that take a different approach, according to a recent report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. While we still need to take steps to ensure that the benefits of these policies are widely shared with all Marylanders and that everyone pays their fair share, many Maryland policies focus on increasing purchasing power and expanding the social safety net for the middle-class, and those trying to get into the middle class. These policies have contributed to Maryland’s higher economic growth, lower unemployment, and higher per capita incomes. Maryland’s approach contrasts with states that pursue “trickle-down” economic policies, such as cutting taxes on…
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October 31, 2017 by Christopher Meyer in Blog, Economic Opportunity
Every year, 233,000 Maryland workers with modest salaries put in long hours without getting paid for it. A regulation originally slated to take effect last year would have changed that by updating the federal overtime threshold for decades of inflation. Instead, a flawed judicial decision put the rule on hold. Until recently, the Trump administration seemed likely to allow the rule to die in court. While it now appears that the administration will propose a weaker expansion covering fewer workers, one thing remains clear: hardworking Marylanders should not be held at the mercy of unpredictable federal policy. The state should act swiftly to expand overtime protections on its own, ensuring that hundreds of thousands of Maryland workers get paid for every hour they work. Federal overtime protections have existed since 1938, when they were passed as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act. They serve dual purposes, ensuring both that…
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October 26, 2017 by Ellen Hutton in Blog, Health
This week, the Maryland Insurance Administration approved additional increases to premiums for the health insurance plans offered through Maryland’s individual marketplace. CareFirst and Kaiser Permanente, the remaining health insurance providers participating in the market, were given the go ahead in August to raise rates for 2018, but the insurance companies requested additional increases due to concerns over their abilities to cover costs following the Trump administration’s decision to end payments of cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies. About 56 percent of Marylanders who are enrolled in ACA health insurance plans benefit from lower out-of-pocket expenses. Low- and moderate-income people, with incomes less than about $60,000 for a family of four, are eligible for these lower costs. Insurers use CSR payments to offset the costs of providing lower co-pays and other fees to these families. In order to keep out-of-pocket expenses in line with ACA standards in the absence of those payments, insurers…
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October 23, 2017 by Kali Schumitz in Blog, Budget and Tax
Eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes, as proposed in Republican leaders’ tax plan, would be a bad tradeoff for Marylanders. This deduction allows taxpayers who itemize deductions on their federal income taxes to deduct state and local property taxes, as well as state and local income taxes or general sales taxes. Not only would 1.4 million Marylanders potentially see higher federal tax bills as a result, eliminating the deduction would make it even harder for Maryland to raise the money needed to support the state services we all rely on. For example, because the deduction is a form of cost sharing between the federal government and the states, eliminating it would likely mean higher borrowing costs for Maryland and other states. Our state is already expected to face serious budget strains over the next few years. Making it harder to raise adequate revenue for state services could, over…
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October 13, 2017 by Shamekka Kuykendall in Blog, Health
When Congress allowed federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to expire on Sept. 30, policymakers put at risk health coverage for nearly 9 million children of working families nationwide. For Maryland, this could mean nearly 138,000 children lose their health care if the state can’t cobble together the funds to keep the program going. It is critical that Congress moves soon to restore federal funding for CHIP or else Maryland and other states will be forced to make tough decisions as existing funding runs out. CHIP provides low-cost health coverage to children in families that earn too much income to qualify for Medicaid but still struggle to afford private health coverage along with housing, food, and other day-to-day needs. In Maryland, there are two CHIP programs, Maryland Children’s Health Program (MCHP) and MCHP Premium. MCHP provides health insurance for uninsured children under age 19 whose household is…
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October 3, 2017 by Christopher Meyer in Blog, Budget and Tax, Economic Opportunity
Amazon’s increasing dominance of the retail sector has helped squeeze traditional retailers and local businesses, prompting many to offer deep discounts before ultimately closing their doors. Maryland cities and counties should avoid the same fate as they bid for the e-commerce giant’s new headquarters. Three Maryland counties plus Baltimore City have now joined dozens of other local governments across the country in the contest to lure Amazon. They should resist the temptation to give away millions in special tax breaks, which would damage Maryland’s ability to make essential public investments and would ultimately weaken our economy. Image source: Scott Lewis, flickr (Creative Commons) More than 100 local governments across the country have declared their intention to vie for Amazon’s second headquarters since the company announced its location search earlier this month. Baltimore City was the first in Maryland to do so, with Gov. Hogan’s endorsement. Prince George’s, Howard, and Montgomery…
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September 28, 2017 by Shamekka Kuykendall in Blog, Health
The percentage of Marylanders with health coverage has continued to grow since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Just as newly released census data showed the continued gains, Senate Republicans were reinvigorating their effort to repeal the ACA, putting the strides that the U.S. has made over the past several years in granting health care coverage in jeopardy. In 2016, 6.1 percent of Marylanders were uninsured, a significant drop from the 11.3 percent uninsured rate in 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. The uninsured rate also dropped among all demographic groups in the state, including people of color, immigrants, and Marylanders with different income and education levels. Despite the decline in the rate of uninsured, disparity between people of color, immigrants, and Marylanders of different income and education levels, has remained the same in comparison to the rest of the state. As shown in the chart below, the uninsured…
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September 20, 2017 by Christopher Meyer in Blog, Economic Opportunity
Many families in Maryland saw their standard of living improve in 2016, according to census data released last week. At the same time, the damage from the Great Recession is still not fully healed after almost a decade and too many in our state are still struggling to get by. Fortunately, there are policies we can adopt to ensure that everyone shares in Maryland’s economic growth. An Unfinished Recovery Typical Maryland families took home $78,900 in 2016, a 3.1 percent increase from 2015 (adjusted for inflation) and the highest median income in the country. For the first time, typical Maryland families had as much purchasing power in 2016 as before the Great Recession. However, looking at individuals’ salaries, as opposed to household income, most workers have not made up all the lost ground, earning $1,700 less in inflation-adjusted terms in 2016 than in 2007. Too many people in Maryland still…
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September 15, 2017 by Christopher Meyer in Blog, Education
A great public education system is one of the building blocks of Maryland’s prosperity. But as multiple independent analyses have shown, our school system doesn’t currently provide the same opportunities to all children. An education system that leaves many behind is out of step with Marylanders’ commitment to enable all children to achieve their full potential. It will also undermine our economy in the long run. The Kirwan Commission—the body charged with reviewing the state’s education policies—has a rare opportunity to strengthen Maryland’s school system. Decisions the commission will make in the coming months will affect Maryland children for many years to come. A new MDCEP report examines one of the most important policies the Kirwan Commission is reviewing: compensatory education aid, or targeted funding intended to help schools effectively serve low-income students. This funding is necessary because children in low-income families often face barriers to success in school. When…
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