RICHMOND, Va. – On the heels of last week’s reconvened session, the Tax Fairness for Virginia Coalition released a series of video stories featuring parents demanding that Gov. Glenn Youngkin and legislators take action to pass a budget that prioritizes parents.
The Governor and legislators had originally hoped for a budget deal during reconvened session, but it is still being deliberated. With reconvened session finished, only the budget and budget-related bills remain unresolved.
The parents are calling for three things: 1) a fully refundable Earned Income Tax Credit that would help parents who need it the most, 2) “Parent Relief Payments,” by improving the one-time tax rebates to account for the number of children in a family, and 3) full funding for Virginia’s public schools.
The videos can be viewed at taxfairnessforvirginia.org.
“I’m saddened that the General Assembly hasn’t passed a budget yet,” said Cheryl Jones of Chesapeake in one of the videos. “It’s almost like they’re not really concerned about families — low-income families, moderate [income] families that need help. And it makes me feel like we’re being left out… I would like Governor Youngkin and the General Assembly to reconsider their distribution of funds and take into consideration all of these families we have in the whole state of Virginia…because I know that we can do better for the families, and for these children.”
“What’s keeping me up at night is trying to secure a place to live that I can afford. Will I have enough money to put gas in my car to get to and from work?” said Annie Henderson in another video. “A parent relief payment would help me tremendously, to the point of just buying food for the kids. It would help pay rent. It would help pay an electric bill, gas bill, water bill.”
Earlier this month, Virginia parents and the Tax Fairness for Virginia Coalition held a virtual press conference calling on Gov. Youngkin and legislators to prioritize parents in budget negotiations. The video from that event can be viewed on the Tax Fairness for Virginia Facebook page.
“Parents across Virginia are struggling to make ends meet, and they need our lawmakers to act now to advance a budget that prioritizes their families,” said Ashley Kenneth, President of The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis. “The governor and legislators should adopt a 3-point Plan to Prioritize Parents: Making the Earned Income Tax Credit fully refundable, providing a parent relief rebate that focuses on families, and making robust investments in public schools, including the at-risk add-on program and higher teacher pay. It’s time for lawmakers to take action and pass a budget that prioritizes parents now.”
The 3-point plan that parents are calling for entails:
- A refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit to help families who are on the tightest budgets. About 600,000 working families in Virginia receive the federal EITC, and many of these families would benefit from a refundable state EITC. Of the 30 states plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico that have state EITCs, Virginia is one of just a handful that places tight limits on the credit. A fully refundable Earned Income Tax Credit is the single most important tax policy on the table because it’s designed to help families who are living paycheck to paycheck. On average, a refundable EITC would mean about $500 in the pockets of families who need it the most. To put that in perspective, that’s enough to pay the water bill for about 7 months, or to buy roughly 6 months worth of diapers for a newborn child, or fill up the gas tank 10 times in a small car. Both red states and blue states across the country already have a refundable EITC. An EITC refundability calculator from The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis is available at thecommonwealthinstitute.org.
- A one-time tax rebate targeted to parents so that families can make ends meet. The current one-time rebate proposal does not account for children. For example, a single mother with two children earning $75,000 would receive as much as a single adult earning $175,000. Lawmakers should also pay special attention, and learn from past experiences, to ensure that these checks actually reach parents with low-incomes. When similar checks were sent out in 2019, they were nonrefundable, meaning that over a million families with lower incomes who had no tax liability were excluded.
- Fully funding our K-12 schools. Lawmakers have underinvested in K-12 public education for years, with a marked decrease in response to the Great Recession. Since that time, state revenues recovered from the Great Recession and have been higher than expected in response to the pandemic-related economic crisis. The final budget should include the Senate’s stronger provisions related to teacher pay and additional funding for the at-risk add on program, which is critical for school divisions that have high levels of poverty.
Tax Fairness for Virginia is a diverse, multi-issue coalition of people and organizations that recognize the need for reforming how Virginia raises revenue. Doing so would make sure we can invest in our schools, in our communities, in our healthcare, and in our environment. Learn more at www.taxfairnessforvirginia.org/