The Biden administration recently released its $1.9 trillion Coronavirus relief plan. So what does this plan mean for our children and families through the lens of equity?
The plan calls for sending another $1,400 per person to eligible recipients. This money would be in addition to the $600 payments that were approved by Congress in December, for a total of $2,000.
Rental assistance and eviction moratorium
The plan would provide $25 billion in rental assistance for low- and moderate-income households who have lost jobs during the pandemic. That’s in addition to the $25 billion lawmakers provided in December. Another $5 billion would be set aside to help struggling renters to pay their utility bills. Biden is also calling for $5 billion to help states and localities assist those at risk of experiencing homelessness. The plan would extend the federal eviction moratorium, set to expire at the end of January, to September 30.
Across the country, one in seven households, and more than one in five Black and Latino households, reports that they are struggling to secure the food they need. The Biden plan addresses the growing hunger crisis facing 29 million Americans, and as many as 12 million children, by asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider expanding and extending federal nutrition assistance programs.
The plan seeks to boost the Child Tax Credit for one year to $3,600 for children under age 6, and $3,000 for those between the ages of 6 and 17. The credit would be made fully refundable. Also included are proposals to raise the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit for a year to nearly $1,500 for childless adults, increase the income limit for the credit to about $21,000 and expand the age range of eligibility to cover older workers. Both of these are aimed at supporting low-income families, including millions of essential workers.
High-poverty school districts would gain the most from President Biden’s proposal to send nearly $130 billion to America’s K-12 schools. That amounts to about $2,600 per public school student, although the exact amount would vary by district. It’s significantly more than what has already been allocated by Congress for schools (about $13 billion in March 2020 and another $54 billion late last year). The proposal says that dollars would flow to states and districts based on Title I funding, which sends money to school districts with more low-income students.
Twenty percent of the money districts get would have to be spent helping students catch up academically. The legislation specifically mentions “summer learning, extended day, or extended school year programs” as possibilities.
Beyond that, school districts would have a lot of leeway on how to spend the new money. The proposal says the money can be spent in the same way as the last pot of federal aid — which allowed schools to use it to “continue operations,” reopen buildings, and more.
States would also have a role in helping districts with learning loss. Five percent of the total pot ($6.5 billion) would be sent to states for them to use to help districts implement learning loss programs. Under a provision in this bill, states wouldn’t be allowed to make larger cuts in 2022 or 2023 to high-poverty districts than to more affluent ones.
There’s also $2 billion in the estimate for “equity challenge” grants for state and tribal governments to “partner with teachers, parents, and other stakeholders to advance equity- and evidence-based policies to respond to COVID-19 educational equity challenges. It also includes $14 billion for additional custodial staff, $14 billion for transportation, $7 billion to improve student access to the internet to close the “digital divide,” and $6 billion for personal protective equipment.
Vaccines and testing
The plan calls for investing $20 billion in a national vaccination program, including launching community vaccination centers around the country and mobile units in hard-to-reach areas. Biden would also increase federal support to vaccinate Medicaid enrollees. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that, together with the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), provides health coverage to over 72.5 million Americans, including children, pregnant women, parents, seniors, and individuals with disabilities.
The full House may pass the legislation as soon as next week, but it could face hurdles in the Senate.
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