March 25, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Sharon Kayne, Communications Director, NM Voices for Children, 505-361-1288 (direct)
ALBUQUERQUE, NM—The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was described as being a big a game-changer along the lines of the New Deal – a package of legislation that helped the nation recover from the Great Depression.
“There’s no greater investment that we can make than to invest in the early years of our children’s development,” said Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) at a virtual press conference about the ARPA and its impact on the state. “We’ve learned the hard way over the years that if you don’t make these kinds of investments in people, in families, and in small businesses, that the impacts of an extreme event like COVID or a financial crisis linger in the economy. We made the right decision this time to not take an austerity mindset so that we can get the economy going the way it should be. I can’t think of anything in my career so far that will have the impact on children that the American Rescue Plan will have.”
Recently passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden, the ARPA will bring billions of federal dollars to New Mexico. Some of the funding will go straight to state, local, and tribal governments and some will go directly to families. Benefits for families include income supports such as advanced payments of the Child Tax Credit, an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and an extension of the extra unemployment insurance payments.
The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is the piece that was most deeply discussed during the press conference. It has been likened to a “child allowance” – an income support that has been shown to greatly improve outcomes for children in countries where it’s been enacted. This kind of program for families who are struggling financially is effective because it gives parents the option to spend the money in the ways that best meet their families’ needs, according to Emma Mehrabi, director of poverty policy for the Children’s Defense Fund, who also spoke at the press conference.
James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, who was also on the virtual meeting, seconded that comment, adding that the CTC is far more effective at moving the economy than are trickle-down tax-cut approaches. “All the business tax credits won’t do any good if families don’t have money to spend,” he said.
John King, who was the Education Secretary under President Barak Obama, spoke about how the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately harmed children of color, who are more likely to have fallen behind in school as a result. Jimenez noted how that was especially problematic for New Mexico because children of color compose 75% of the state’s child population.
All of the speakers touched on the enormous reach of the ARPA and expressed the hope that the Child Tax Credit portion is made permanent. “This is such a far-reaching investment in our children,” said Jimenez. “Advocates like to say that a budget is a moral document. This is a moral statement about the importance of investing in our children.”
A fact sheet detailing how sections of the ARPA will impact New Mexico children and families is available here: https://www.nmvoices.org/archives/15357
New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities. 625 Silver Ave. SW, Suite 195, Albuquerque, NM 87102; 505-244-9505 (p); www.nmvoices.org