August 14, 2021
Dear Fellow Marylanders:
This week, we had a marathon session in the Senate that will change the course of America for the better. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, after nearly 48 full hours of lengthy debate and votes on amendments, Senate Democrats passed an historic budget for the next fiscal year that invests in our children and families, without raising taxes on families making less than $400,000. Our objective: getting America and our economy back on track without adding to the debt.
President Joe Biden made families and children a central priority to his Build Back Better Agenda. We already saw the effects last month with the first round of advanced Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments. If you are eligible, the second round should already be in your bank account.
In Maryland 1.1 million children benefit from the Child Tax Credit and it will lift 52,000 children out of poverty. The budget passed by the Senate this week aims to continue these CTC payments beyond 2021.
Helping families helps our communities, so our budget makes sure families have the support they need through more affordable child care, paid family leave, and investing in students and school infrastructure. We make unparalleled investments into families and public education that will make the United States more competitive, and build a brighter future for our children.
In Maryland, the average yearly cost to send a child to child care is more expensive than a year of tuition and fees at our state’s public colleges. The budget resolution we approved changes all that by capping child care costs at no more than 7 percent of income. This will be a welcome savings for so many families who have struggled with these costs year after year.
In addition, our budget seeks to make universal pre-K the standard across the United States.
This will not only ensure our youngest learners are ready to learn once they enter kindergarten, meeting the Maryland Kirwan Commission goal to provide universal pre-K school access for Maryland’s three- and four- year olds, it will further relieve the burden of child care/day care for families of these young learners. Importantly, studies have shown that students who attend pre-K and kindergarten are more likely to graduate and take honors courses than repeat a grade.
As I have mentioned previously, women have felt the harshest effects of the pandemic – 2 million of whom have been forced to leave their jobs. Many have faced the dilemma of the inability to find high quality and affordable child care while trying to find work that accommodates to their needs for their children. COVID-19 has clearly shown us that child care is not a luxury; it is a necessity that keeps our economy running.
Putting families at the forefront, our budget also includes funding to provide 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to support new parents and caregivers for sick family members. The United States is the only country with a robust economy without a standard paid leave policy. No longer will family members have to choose between keeping their jobs and taking care of loved ones.
I am especially proud that our budget resolution provides funding for school construction and renovation. Once passed by the full Congress, this will greatly benefit Baltimore City and County schools, with such projects as the installation of HVAC systems. We have all been appalled to see Baltimore children forced to wear coats in class because of the lack of adequate heating, or students being sent home because of stifling heat when the air condition failed. Children across Maryland deserve the highest quality of education possible, and that includes being able to sit in temperature-controlled classrooms that are optimal for learning, as well as having the latest available technology in the classroom.
The investments made in this expansive budget do not stop with our youngest children. We include provisions that will make community college tuition free and lower the price for families to attend a Historically Black College or University. In 2018, Maryland enacted a free community college initiative that awarded students of eligible low-middle income families full-tuition scholarships to earn a career credential or work towards a four-year degree. This new federal provision will allow students across the nation to begin their path towards their educational goals without taking on significant student loan debt, generating benefits for them and the communities in which they live and work with their newly earned credentials and degrees.
As the headlines show us daily, the pandemic is still raging. So many families are still suffering through these unprecedented times. Our once-in-a-generation budget is designed to help families and therefore boost America’s economic growth. I am proud to be a part this historic effort. We need bold investment to ensure our country comes out of this pandemic as strong as ever.
Thank you for your time. Stay safe, and get vaccinated,
I want to hear from YOU. Share how the Child Tax Credit has impacted your family with me at sen.gov/N9RY.
If you did not file taxes in 2019 or 2020, you can register for the child tax credit at https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/advance-child-tax-credit-payments-in-2021.