Capitol Update: Basic Cash Assistance approved unanimously after moving hearing, vaccine bill introduced, EITC/CTC expansion introduced
Unanimous! That’s right, Senate Bill 29, a bill that we are working on with partners at the Colorado Center on Law and Policy to increase the Basic Cash Assistance benefit for families enrolled in the TANF program passed unanimously out of its first committee! Along with our own Katie Creedon, there was tremendous testimony in the Senate Finance Committee from our friends at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Together Colorado, and the Center for Work Education and Employment. We had two participants enrolled in TANF come and share their own struggles with making ends meet. It was really moving to hear what such an increase would do for them and their families. It was that testimony that got the bill approved unanimously on Tuesday afternoon. Its next stop is in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
One of our other priority bills cleared its second legislative hurdle on Thursday morning. House Bill 1043 is a technical fix to a bill from last year to establish an Early Childhood Educator Tax Credit and was approved by the House Finance Committee on a bipartisan vote. Our early childhood educators are tasked with caring for our youngest children and are not paid nearly enough to do it. With this technical fix, qualified early childhood professionals would be able to claim a credit on their yearly income tax filings. We have seen this approach work in other states, and it is time for Colorado to do the same. The bill is now awaiting a hearing in the House Appropriations committee.
Next week is short one at the General Assembly with President’s Day on Monday. We will be sure to keep you all up to date on the bills impacting kids and families.
Our policy staff work hard each week to analyze bills that would impact children and families. Here are a few highlights, and you can always track all the bills on our Capitol Updates page:
Cost of Living Adjustment for Basic Cash Assistance (Fields & Moreno/Coleman & Duran)
This bill would increase Basic Cash Assistance (BCA) in the TANF program to help narrow the gap created by the fact that BCA has not adjusted for cost of living since the program was created in 1996. It would also implement an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) to BCA moving forward so that the value of BCA does not continue to erode in the future. The Colorado Children’s Campaign strongly supports this bill because we know BCA helps decrease the stress of making ends meet for families who are experiencing extreme poverty. This bill passed out of the Senate Finance Committee unanimously on Tuesday! To read more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.
Colorado Healthy Communities Act (Gonzeles & Priola/Mullica)
This bill would implement common-sense policy changes can help improve vaccination rates, support public health efforts and protect parental choice for those families who opt out of vaccinations. The bill would establish a statewide vaccination goal for all schools and child care facilities. It would provide additional resources and supports to help schools and communities reach this goal. Also, it would require schools to proactively notify parents of school immunization rates, strengthen our immunization data system and standardize the immunization exemption process. To read more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.
Helping Colorado Families Get Ahead Act (Sirota & Gray/ Gonzales)
This bill would eliminate a state tax deduction that disproportionately benefits high-income business owners and use the additional revenue to expand the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and fund the state Child Tax Credit (CTC). The Children’s Campaign supports this bill. The EITC and CTC are two of the most effective tools available to lift children and families out of poverty by putting more money back in families’ pockets. To learn more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.