When Governor Easley signed the budget into law on July 31st a lot of legislators and budget watchers were focused on the inclusion of the land transfer tax option, and the sales tax increase that was made permanent. But also included in the bill were two landmark progressive measures that will be a boon North Carolina's children and families. The final budget includes a refundable 3.5% Earned Income Tax Credit for working families, and NC KIDS CARE, health care coverage that will fill the gap for families between 200% and 300% of the federal poverty level.
(SCHIP only covers up to 200%).
From Action for Children North Carolina:
NC Kids’ Care, which begins on July 1, 2008, will make available affordable health insurance coverage to 38,000 currently uninsured children in families between 200%-300% of the Federal Poverty Line ($42,000-$62,000 per year for a family of four). Families would participate in the cost of care in the form of deductibles, co-payments and monthly premiums subsidized on a sliding scale based on income. The NC legislature approved $368,000 to establish administration of the program in the first year, and has agreed to fully fund the Kids’ Care program at $7 million in subsequent years. This expansion of health insurance means that thousands more children will become eligible for affordable health coverage.
“Insuring our children is one of the wisest investments we can make,” said Barbara Bradley, President and CEO of Action for Children North Carolina, noting that insured children are generally healthier, perform better in school and set lifelong patterns of healthy behaviors. “Action for Children hopes that this will be the first step toward even greater expansion, with the ultimate goal of providing access to affordable insurance to ALL children in our state.”
Additionally, the NC General Assembly adopted a 3.5% NC refundable EITC. The EITC will give a tax credit to more than 825,000 working North Carolinians at the time they file their state tax returns. “By providing a tax refund to moderate- and low-wage workers, the NC EITC will improve tax fairness, supplement wages and help lift families and children out of poverty,” said Bradley. “Again, Action for Children hopes that this marks a first step in providing even more needed supports for our working families.”
These legislative successes come as a result of overwhelming support on behalf of North Carolinians statewide. More than 80 groups and more than 500 individuals across the state have signed onto a letter asking lawmakers to adopt the full funding for NC Kids’ Care. Similarly, hundreds of groups and individuals signed on to a letter supporting the passage of a state EITC. To view the letters, visit Action for Children’s website.
“We cannot thank the people of North Carolina enough,” said Bradley. “Their voice – their signatures, their letters to the editor, their phone calls to our lawmakers – has proved effective at convincing our legislators of the need for these two state policies. Together, we have created a lasting legacy for the children and youth in North Carolina.”
So when you're thanking your legislators for standing firm on the land transfer tax option, don't forget to thank them for putting children first and supporting health care for children, and supporting working families by putting into place NC's State Earned Income Tax.
It's about time. :)