Free Press: Vermont plan to limit welfare-to-work draws fire

Written by DAVE GRAM, Associated Press
Full article at the Burlington Free Press

MONTPELIER — For Roslyn Haldane and Jen Grey, a plan by Gov. Peter Shumlin’s administration to put new limits on a welfare-to-work program could create a nasty domino effect.

Grey could lose the $640 monthly check she receives from the state, which would force the extended Barre family to combine two households into one. Haldane would have to ask the disabled man she cares for to move, costing her the $2,400-a-month state stipend she gets for providing that care and forcing the man to find a new situation. Continue reading

Free Press: Under pressure: Advocates try to persuade tax-writing panel

Written by NANCY REMSEN, Free Press Staff Writer
Full article at the Burlington Free Press

MONTPELIER — A constantly changing cast of worried Vermonters filled the chairs, the windowsill and the open space by the door of the Senate Finance Committee room every afternoon last week, each group representing a special interest that might be affected by a possible tax change.

Even Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has been trying to discourage lawmakers from increasing broad-based taxes and promoting instead several narrower revenue initiatives, assigned two, sometimes three top staff to monitor the deliberations of the seven-member committee as it analyzed at least a dozen tax proposals in preparation for writing and voting on a tax bill this week. Continue reading

VTDigger: Margolis: Governor gives ground, more retreat likely

Full article at Vermont Digger
by Jon Margolis | April 19, 2013

This is not the language of triumph.

In a memo, Finance Commissioner Jim Reardon urged the Senate to accept the Shumlin administration’s “restructuring of the Earned Income Tax Credit” and join in “addressing our current unlimited access to Reach Up benefits.”

It was the language of obfuscation.

Gov. Peter Shumlin and his administration do not want to “restructure” the Earned Income Tax Credit. They want to cut it. And they do not want to “address” the “unlimited access” to the basic welfare program. They want to abolish it.

Three months ago, the administration wanted to cut the EITC so much that there would barely be any of it left. And it wanted to limit how long a recipient could keep getting Reach Up benefits to save some $6.8 million in the next fiscal year.

Now, in Reardon’s memo and another to the Senate Appropriations Committee by Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding, the Administration has scaled back its proposed EITC cuts and reduced its estimate of how much the Reach Up limits would save.
Continue reading

Free Press: How We’re Doing: Earned income tax credit a program that works

Written by Art Woolf
Full article at the Burlington Free Press

Gov. Peter Shumlin’s proposal to redirect $17 million of state spending on the earned income tax credit (EITC) to pay for his early child care initiative has generated a great deal of controversy among many of his traditional supporters. The governor recently changed his original proposal and now wants to reduce the EITC by only $12 million to fund new child care subsidies. Continue reading

Green Mountain Daily: Why VT’s budget process – and public dialogue – must change

From Green Mountain Daily

One of the most important lessons I’ve gained in life is that when you have a problem, you have to figure out what’s causing it and get down to the root of the matter. Governor Shumlin’s proposals to cap Reach Up and limit the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are a clear example of misunderstanding the problem and therefore calling for a solution that won’t fix it.

The things I hear coming from Montpelier and some newspapers these days don’t ring true with what I’ve faced. I’m a single mom of two children, born and raised in Brattleboro. I’m also proud to have attended college and received two degrees. I work full time and volunteer in my community that I have invested in and value so much. Yet, like many members of my community, I sometimes struggle to meet my family’s needs, such as healthcare, higher education, childcare, transportation, housing, healthy food and dignified work. Continue reading

VTDigger: Advocacy group gives Vermont welfare programs a better-than-average rating

Full article at Vermont Digger
by Alicia Freese | April 17, 2013

According to a “misery index,” computed each year by the advocacy group, Legal Momentum, Vermont does a better job than most states at drawing on federal welfare dollars to support poor families. Advocates are pointing to the strong score as another argument for keeping the Reach Up program intact.

States receive a fixed grant from the federal government, known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), to operate their family welfare programs. Reach Up, Vermont’s version of the program, provides cash assistance to about 6,500 families.

Legal Momentum, a women’s rights advocacy organization founded in 1970, devised the “TANF misery index,” which it defines as the sum of the percent of poor families not receiving TANF and the percent gap between TANF benefits and the poverty level.
Continue reading

VPR: Shumlin, Lawmakers Split On EITC Proposal

From VPR
By Bob Kinzel, 4/16/2013

A new report analyzing Governor Peter Shumlin’s plan to take money from a low-income tax credit program to finance an expansion of child care services has set off a fierce debate over this issue. And both sides are using a different set of facts to make their case.

Is Vermont’s low-income tax credit program one of the most generous in the country or do benefits from the program lag far behind most other states? Those are some of the questions raised in a new report issued by the Public Assets Institute.

The federal Earned Income Tax Credit program is designed primarily to help low-income working households with children. The maximum credit is roughly $6,000 and Vermont participants are eligible to receive a state tax credit that represents 32 percent of their federal credit. Continue reading