Build Back Better Plan Promises to Benefit Millions of Texas Children | New
AUSTIN – Key pieces of President Joe Biden’s $ 2.2 trillion Build Back Better bill will give millions of Texas children the opportunity to start school earlier – a concept both have already embraced political parties at the state level.
The bill provides $ 400 billion for universal, free and high-quality preschool education for all 3 and 4-year-olds, as well as direct support to middle-income families with a cap on childcare costs. ‘children not exceeding 7%. of the combined income of a family.
The bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives on November 19, is now in the hands of the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he plans to push through the economic package before Christmas.
âIn Texas, the two sides have agreed that one of the best ways to spend taxpayer dollars is to invest in early childhood education,â said Bob Sanborn, president and CEO of Children at Risk. âWe are a state that has invested in preschool education in pre-kindergarten for 3 years, in pre-kindergarten for 4 years, and therefore we understand. “
Texas has about 2.4 million children between the ages of 0 and 5, according to state data. But among those children, only around 9% of all 3-year-olds and 47% of all 4-year-olds are enrolled in pre-kindergarten, Sanborn said.
âWe’re going to have to dramatically increase that number to make sure more children have the opportunity to succeed,â he said.
In Texas, about 60% of school-aged children come from low-income families, according to the data. Low income for the state is defined by families earning less than $ 65,000 per year for a family of four. There are also nearly half a million Texas families who live in extreme poverty, or earn less than $ 10,000 a year, the statement said.
In addition, the annual cost of child care continues to increase. In Texas, an average annual cost for child care is $ 9,324 for an infant and $ 7,062 for a 4-year-old, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute.
The bill would provide free child care to families earning less than $ 66,000 a year. And for families earning less than $ 300,000, child care costs will be capped at 7% of their income.
A separate part of the bill devotes $ 200 billion to child tax credits, extending by one year the pandemic-era credits that provided parents with $ 300 per month per child under 6 and $ 250 per month per child aged 6 to 17.
“[Families] now have more money in their pockets to take care of their children and feed their children, but more importantly, they are not spending that money on child care, âsaid Sanborn. “The more money parents have, research really shows that parents tend to take the extra money they have and put it into their kids.”
Texas, and in particular Governor Greg Abbott, pledged to support the idea of ââa universal pre-K and the benefits it brings to a community long before the federal spending bill did. headlines.
In 2014, Abbott signed a bill allocating $ 130 million over two years to school districts with preschool programs that meet certain standards. The grant program has given eligible school districts up to $ 1,500 per child to enhance their pre-K programs for students from low-income, non-English speaking, host and military families.
And in 2019, the state legislature passed Bill 3, which required full-time preschool programs for all 4-year-olds starting in the 2019-2020 school year. These programs also meet quality requirements previously adopted by the legislator.
“Now the big question will be whether the federal government says it’s a good idea as well?” Because we live in a time against the grain where it depends on who says something, whether you agree with them or not, âsaid Sanborn. “But overall what we’re seeing is that the Republican leadership in the state has really embraced this idea of ââearly education.”
Despite this, US Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) spoke out against the bill, calling it an âideological wishlistâ.
He added that he hopes Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona – two Democrats who have the power to endanger the bill if they do not vote for it – will beat him.
âThis is not about helping the country on a bipartisan basis, this is about a partisan spending bill. Meanwhile, raise taxes to the highest level we’ve seen in our country’s history, âsaid Cornyn.
Understanding this political dynamic, Sanborn said that while he was convinced that the universal pre-K and children’s tax credit aspects of the bill would overtake the Senate, other parts related to children, such as the paid vacation, is not so certain.
In total, the bill proposes broad social programs beyond children, including money for affordable housing; providing affordable, high-quality care to older Americans and supporting home care workers; lower drug prices; and fight climate change through rebates and tax credits for middle-class families.
Will Robison of Capital Impact Patterns, a nonprofit that works on social innovation programs, said social investments are some of the best that can be made to uplift a community. Funding for the bill will help launch social projects that otherwise would not have had the financial backing and ultimately improve lives, he said.
âIn our society, we need people to invest not only to try to make a profit, but also to try to make an impact in our communities,â said Robison. “It’s not just handouts and just money for problems, we try to invest alongside the community and empower the community to improve.”
Robison added that with investments in early childhood education, not only will children be better prepared for a successful education, but it also frees up time for parents to work and occupy the growing number of children. open positions nationwide. It will also create jobs in the children’s education sector, he said.
“Investing in things like housing, health care [and] education helps people get what they need to be good employees and members of their community, âsaid Robison.
Here is what is in the current version of the bill dated November 24:
â¢ Universal preschool for all 3 and 4 years old;
â¢ A ceiling on childcare costs of 7% of income for parents earning up to 250% of a state’s median income;
â¢ Four weeks of federally paid parental, sick or compassionate care leave;
â¢ One year of extended child tax credits for middle class families;
â¢ Extended Pandemic Affordable Care Act grants;
â¢ New hearing benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, including coverage for a new hearing aid every five years
â¢ A limit of $ 35 per month on the cost of insulin under Medicare and a limit on reimbursable expenses for prescription drugs at $ 2,000 per year;
â¢ $ 500 billion to fight climate change, largely through clean energy tax credits; and
â¢ An increase in the state and local tax deduction limit from $ 10,000 to $ 80,000.