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The Oregon Kids’ Credit helps families in need
By TYLER MAC INNIS
Tax filing season is upon us. And if you are a parent raising a young child, and your family is struggling to get by on low wages, you may have an extra incentive to file an Oregon tax return. That’s because eligible families can now claim the brand new Oregon Kids’ Credit, a refundable tax credit worth up to $1,000 per child.
In the waning hours of last year’s contentious legislative session, lawmakers came together to over- whelmingly support the creation of the Oregon Kids’ Credit, a new state child tax credit targeted at Oregon’s poorest families. The added cash for struggling families cannot come at a better time, as necessities like housing, child care, and groceries are not getting any cheaper.
The Oregon Kids’ Credit takes a proven approach to addressing the economic insecurity of families: it gives them cash. There is a growing body of evidence showing the benefits of providing direct, unrestricted cash to struggling families.
Perhaps there is no better evidence than that produced by the temporary improvements to the federal Child Tax Credit, which was in effect for just one year in 2021. In its brief existence, the enhanced Child Tax Credit helped slash child poverty by half, while improving family economic well-being, reducing household stress, and reducing hunger.
There is even evidence that the Child Tax Credit helped parents enter the workforce. After all, having cash on hand helps pay for transportation, child care, or other prerequisites for being able to work. But regrettably, Congress failed to renew the enhanced Child Tax Credit.
In the absence of congressional action, the Oregon legislature stepped up and created a state child tax credit. The Oregon Kids’ Credit is a fully refundable tax credit worth
$1,000 per child aged 0 to 5. Families making between $0 and $25,000 can claim the full credit, before eligibility begins to phase out. A partial credit is available to families making up to $30,000.
While the Oregon Kids’ Credit is not as expansive as the federal Child Tax Credit, it will still deliver some much-needed additional cash to families with young children who are struggling to get by. In Marion County, an estimated 5,780 children
under age 6 stand to benefit from the Oregon Kids’ Credit if their parents file their taxes. Across Oregon, nearly 55,000 Oregon kids are eligible for the new tax credit. If every eligible child in Oregon is claimed, some 5,000 kids could be lifted out of poverty.
How can you claim the Oregon Kids’ Credit if your family is eligible? To do so, you need to file an Oregon tax return. That, in turn, requires filing a federal tax return, because the Oregon tax return pig- gybacks on the federal one.
While filing a tax return is no one’s idea of fun, the payoff can go well beyond the benefits of the newly created Oregon Kids’ Credit. Families eligible for the Oregon Kids’ Credit may also qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, the Oregon Earned Income Credit, and the Oregon Working Family Household and Dependent Care Credit. All of those tax credits can add up to a hefty chunk of change that can make a big difference in the lives of families.
You may also be able to find free assistance to help you prepare and file your tax return. One way to find out about free tax assistance is to call 211 Info by dialing 2-1-1. You can also text your zip code to 898211 (TXT211) or email [email protected]. All of us want to see our chil- dren grow up healthy and enjoy an opportunity to thrive. Unfortunately, our current economy—where low wage work is pervasive and child care costs are sky-high—makes it difficult for many parents to provide their children what they need. The Oregon Kids’ Credit honors the dignity of all parents and responds to the needs of our state’s most vulnerable children.
If you are a parent with a young child and are struggling to make ends meet, be sure to claim the Oregon Kids’ Credit if you’re eligible. And regardless of whether the Oregon Kids’ Credit is for you, help the children of our state by spreading the word.
(Tyler MacInnis is a Policy Analyst with the Oregon center for Public Policy (ocpp.org).
110 still needs some work
By KEVIN MANNIX
In November, I wrote about Measure 110, my previous efforts to fix it during the 2023 legislative session, and the importance of a timely solution. Three months have now gone by, and the controversy of Measure 110 continues to steal the headlines.
As the 35-day 2024 legislative session approaches, several “solutions” have been proposed to end this devastating measure.
My House Republican colleagues and I have introduced legislation (House Bill 4036) that would target the core problems within Measure 110, including making the possession of fentanyl, heroin and meth a Class A misdemeanor, which carries up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $6,250 or both. To put this pen- alty into perspective, this violation would be equivalent to someone caught drunk driving.
We know those in the depths of addiction need accountability to get the help they need—this bill would do just that. Users would be able to avoid jail time and the fine with mandatory addiction treatment.
This legislation also puts an end to public drug use, requires tougher prison sentences for drug dealers and manufacturers, and increases the length of time someone “incapacitated” by drugs can be held in a sobering facility, from 48 hours to 72 hours.
Our legislation would use marijuana dollars to fund rehabilitation and would empower city and county government services through a grant program operated by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission.
I also believe that any solution to Measure 110 must include some accountability for minors in possession of drugs.
Currently, in Oregon, a minor in possession of alcohol receives an MIP (Minor in Possession) Class A violation and a presumptive fine of $440. If this same minor instead was in possession of fentanyl, meth or cocaine, under Oregon’s Measure 110, they would receive a $100 fine with a phone number they can call to waive the fine.
Measure 110 created no differentiation between adults and minors. This must change.
On January 23, the majority party announced their proposed fix to Measure 110, House Bill 4002. There are several differences within this legislation from the proposal I described above, namely only re-criminalizing drug use to a Class C misdemeanor (rather than Class A), which only provides 30 days in jail.
As I stated following the announcement of this proposal, 30 days is nowhere near the amount of time needed to address addiction. In my discussions with treatment providers, I have been told this is typically 60-90 days at a minimum.
House Bill 4002 is opposed by the League of Oregon Cities, the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association, and the Oregon District Attorneys Association who have said this proposal does not go far enough.
Our very own Marion County District Attorney, Paige Clarkson, stated this legislation would not give prosecutors the leverage they need to compel people to change. In addition, the McMinnville Police Chief stated this proposal would not give law enforcement the tools they need to be effective.
The Legislature has a responsibility to listen to our law enforcement officers and prosecutors dealing with this crisis on a daily basis.
We cannot turn a blind eye. Oregonians are crying out for help. We must put special interest voices aside, and address the drug crisis emergency.
(Kevin Mannix (R) represents Oregon House District 21. He can be reached at the Capitol by emailing [email protected] or by calling 503-986-1421.)
Apprenticeships are the future
By GENE H. MCINTYRE
A matter of fairly serious interest is on its way now to those young men and women graduating from high school and thereafter seeking successful futures.
Referencing that interest from a personal past of 60 years ago, my class of 120 Astoria High School graduates recalls a dozen or so reporting a college plan.
Reasons included no local college opportunity before Clatsop Community College, few families with financial means to relocate offspring to the closest college, and the most compelling reason: plenty of local jobs in fishing and forestry then paying a living wage and offering a future.
All that’s changed during the intervening years!
Forward to 2024 and we have a Gallup poll that tells us that many institutions of higher education are struggling to maintain the trust of the American public. Gallup says that confidence in higher education here fell in the most recent decade from 57% to 36%, translating to a drop of more than three million fewer students on campus.
Shocking by personal point of view was that nearly half of parents interviewed by Gallup prefer not to send their children to a four-year college after high school, even having no persuading reason not to do so.
The COVID pandemic may be handy to explain changes in attitude and interest.
However, even back in the mid-1960s, as baby boomers came of age, money flowed easily from the federal government for loans available to college-bound 18-year-olds with a high school diploma, the purpose being to establish a world’s best workforce.
After all, the Soviet Union had just launched Sputnik and the U.S. thereby looked as it was falling behind the Soviets in the Cold War that dominated world reactions at the time.
Further, here, we scrapped a lot of high school vocational education programs, often devoting school resources to college preparatory classes.
As students took their leave of the humanities and went overboard for fields like computer science, big data and engineering, the result was lack of interest in history and English departments with waiting lists for classes that promised graduates well-paying, in-demand jobs.
These, you might say, resulted in drastic changes in college/university offerings and pushed many a higher education institution into financial exigencies, resulting in financial upsets and huge protest disruptions on many formerly peaceful campuses.
Another relevant factor addresses my pet peeve, having to do with the purpose of our schools and colleges at all levels.
That is, their failure too often to teach students how to think critically, make educated decisions and resolve their problems/challenges (with practiced learnings by applications of logic, ethics, morals, values and principles for human thinking acuity).
Instead, it’s mainly been memory work or memorizing facts much of the time from kindergarten through graduate school for which those inadequacies related to my own education and development from high school years through an undergraduate college degree a PhD program, and employment thereafter.
Throughout my career I did not acquire the skills I needed to succeed at a level of satisfaction in professional-level positions because I did not know how to ably apply effective thinking tools, make decisions, and solve problems, except too often by personal trial and error, with shortcomings thereby.
What’s good news now is that there’s pressure afoot in our land to place less emphasis on a traditional four-year degree program and a return to vocational education opportunities in high schools.
For example, the federal government and several states have eliminated the degree requirements for many government jobs.
Last year, for example, a survey of 800 companies found that 45% intend to eliminate a bachelor degree for some jobs. Instead, employers are adopting skills-based hiring requirements that look at what students know beyond the award of a diploma for hours spent inside classrooms.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams wants 30,000 new apprenticeships for his city by 2030; California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to establish 500,000 apprenticeship programs there by the year 2030.
IBM and Deloitte professional services are two among several companies championing the idea that demonstrable skills matter more than degrees.
Our nation was born on developing skills through apprenticeships, an approach that will soon acquire a status often unused of late. Meanwhile, our colleges and universities will remain as players by providing additional and appropriate post high school training and education opportunities.
To recover some of the lost faith in higher education, many of the institutions in our nation recog- nize that a time has come for serious adjustments.
They must find and travel new paths in a changing world where an American can prove by demonstration what he and she knows and can do, presenting know- how (and value) to modern day employers rather than the former less meaningful standard application for work, that is, presenting a vintage parchment paper document with writing in old English, impressively colorful and frame-worthy, providing only the graduating school and graduate’s name.
(Gene H. McIntyre of Keizer shares his opinion regularly in the Keizertimes.)
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