On this Mother’s Day, the staff at New Mexico Voices for Children wanted to tip our hats to all of the moms out there and celebrate them for doing all they do. As a working new mom myself, I thought we might also talk about some of the unique challenges that moms who work outside the home face. Working mothers are now the primary or co-breadwinners for two-thirds of American families.
Far too many working New Mexicans struggle to support their families and avoid poverty, especially in the current economy and given the prevalence of low-wage jobs. New Mexico not only has one of the highest rates of poverty in the nation, it also has the highest share of working families with low incomes and the worst income gap between the rich and the poor.
People who work full-time should not have to live in poverty. Refundable tax credits like the federal EITC and New Mexico’s WFTC are important boosts to hard-working people and their families, and they allow more funds to flow into New Mexico communities. The credits can and do make working families’ lives a little easier.
The EITC has been making the lives of workers a little easier for more than 37 years. Yet the IRS estimates that nationwide one in five eligible workers still miss out on the EITC, either because they don’t claim it when filing, or don’t file a tax return. This is money that can make a difference.
You’ve probably heard about the automatic spending cuts to defense programs that will take place unless the U.S. Congress acts before the end of the year. What you’ve heard less about is how New Mexico will also lose more than $41 million in federal funds to state social programs. Education programs will be hardest hit with cuts that will mean fewer teachers, bigger class sizes, and reduced training for the kind of high-tech jobs the state hopes to draw.