Some teachers discouraged by the loss of the child tax credit | News, Sports, Jobs

President Joe Biden arrives to speak at an event marking the start of the monthly child tax credit relief payments, in the South Court Auditorium of the White House complex, July 15 in Washington. Families across the country, including on Maui, have expressed disappointment at the end of the expanded child tax credit after Congress was unable to pass Biden’s Build Back Better program in December which would have renewed the advantage. Photo of the AP file

Some Maui teachers are expressing disappointment at the loss of the expanded federal child tax credit and the weakening of other benefits, saying it would help them and the families of the children they teach.

Sarah Shewmaker, a teacher at Makawao Elementary School, said she was “very disappointed” that the expanded child tax credit is now absent, the free community college proposal is gone, and the family leave enhancement is less than originally proposed by President Joe Biden.

“These are foundational initiatives that are needed to improve the lives of families on Maui, before and especially during COVID,” says Shewmaker.

She said the expanded credit check she received with other families helped her pay for groceries and clothes and also helped her because she “the salary is not incredibly high.”

“I wanted the (expanded) Child Tax Credit to become permanent for families in my school community. There are many people struggling with both parents working 24 hours a day; an extra $300 a month can add some relief and comfort if an unexpected expense arises,” she said.

Historically a bipartisan measure, the federal child tax credit was created in 1997 to allow eligible families to subtract the credit amount from the federal income tax they owed, according to the National Conference. state legislatures. The tax credit has grown over the years, and prior to 2021, it allowed eligible families to reduce their federal income tax by up to $2,000 per eligible child, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Last year, passage of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 expanded the child tax credit for American families by raising the eligibility age from 16 to 17, making the credit fully refundable. and increasing the maximum credit amount from $2,000 per child to $3,600. per child for children under 5 years old and $3,000 per child for 6 to 17 year olds.

Advance monthly payments were distributed from July to December with a maximum of $250 to $300 per child, according to the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

However, the reforms expired at the end of 2021 after Congress was unable to pass Biden’s Build Back Better program which included a renewal of the expanded child tax credit.

The issue was still in limbo this week as Biden marked his first year in office with a press conference in which he expressed uncertainty about the child tax credit.

“There are two really big components that I care about that I’m not sure I can fit into the package,” Biden said Wednesday. “One is the child care tax credit, and the other is community college cost assistance.”

A South Maui educator with four children ranging from third grade through college said she and her husband were doing “major restructuring” this month since the end of the extended credit.

“We live paycheck to paycheck” said Erin Hayden-Baldauf, who teaches Lokelani Intermediate in Kihei.

Her daughter in college has student loans and has to work more than 20 hours a week because the family has no “cushion in our budget” to pay for living expenses, Hayden-Baldauf said. Her daughter only attends university part-time so she can work.

“The Child Tax Credit has been a huge help in supporting her during this critical time in her development,” said Hayden-Baldauf.

The family also took out a loan for a “junker” a car so their 16-year-old son in high school can drive to work.

The child tax credit helped pay for the “flapping cars” for their children with the insurance, Hayden-Baldauf said.

Another Maui teacher, Justin Hughey, said the expanded credit will provide him and his wife, who is also a teacher, with $600 a month.

“It’s a blow for us economically,” said the Wailuku resident. “Teachers in Hawaii are the lowest paid teachers in the country.”

Hughey has a 2 year old and a 1 month old. Babysitting her eldest costs $697 a month, and once they start paying for babysitting the second child, they’ll be spending almost $1,400 a month.

“My wife and I will be able to cope, but I feel for the homeless families I see living in their cars as I drive from Wailuku to Lahaina,” said Hughey, a special education teacher at King Kamehameha III Elementary School in Lahaina. “It will also force teachers to relocate to the mainland where they receive competitive salaries in districts with the same cost of living.”

Hughey took his frustration to the Central Committee of the Hawaii Democratic Party, where he is the education caucus representative, author of a resolution “expressing disappointment with the actions of Congressman Ed Case” regarding the adoption of the Build Back Better agenda.

The resolution said Hawaii Congressman Case, co-chair of the Blue Dog Coalition in the U.S. House of Representatives, along with members of the coalition, delayed the bill’s passage in the House and also hurt the program. Build Back Better by supporting the removal of certain social safety net initiatives from the provisions financing infrastructure.

The deadline “contributed greatly to the weakening” off the bill’s agenda and left it with fewer benefits for Hawaii’s working families, according to the resolution.

Case represents Hawaii’s 1st congressional district, which covers the urban core of Honolulu.

Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, chairman of the Hawaii Democratic Party, said in a press release earlier this month that his “Core party leaders clearly wanted to see President Biden’s Build Back Better bill passed in its original form, and were clearly disappointed when critical agendas were not included in the final proposal that was passed by bedroom.”

The state Central Committee passed the resolution criticizing Case with 46 votes in favor, 19 against and one member abstaining. The resolution is not a motion of no confidence or a cause for hearing a complaint under the Hawaii Party Bylaws, but “expresses the strong sentiment of the members of the State Central Committee from across the state.”

Case said in an email that he was not told about the resolution in advance or given the opportunity to explain his actions or answer questions.

Case said Hughey was implying that he did not support expanding the child tax credit, which “is completely wrong.”

“I voted for and supported him on several occasions”, Case said.

He added that the resolution “omitting the fundamental fact” that on Nov. 19, he joined all but one of his fellow Democrats in voting for the House to pass the $2.1 trillion Build Back Better Act that Biden endorsed.

The version passed by the House would extend the expanded child tax credit and also includes several initiatives to improve education, Case said.

Case acknowledged that he supported efforts to decouple the Build Back Better Act from the $1 trillion bipartisan physical infrastructure package, but pointed out that Biden made the same judgment and urged that the package be infrastructure is adopted and enacted independently of the Build Back Better Act. .

Maui County is expected to receive millions of dollars from the package, including $9.4 million for Kahului Airport as well as millions more for county-run bridges, Case said.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at [email protected]

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