Good afternoon, Chair Sarlo, and members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.
One in 10 New Jersey children live in poverty, an appalling figure for one of the country’s wealthiest states. That rate is even higher for the state’s youngest children, with families fighting each day to meet the high cost of raising children in the state.
The bill before you today creating a state-level Child Tax Credit shows a new way forward, sending money directly to families to help alleviate these costs. As the expanded federal Child Tax Credit demonstrated, sending direct payments to families with children can reduce poverty, improve food security, and keep family finances stable through rocky economic times.
With those tough times on the horizon, and inaction from Congress on extending the federal Child Tax Credit, now is the time for New Jersey to join states like New Mexico, Vermont, and Minnesota in creating a state-level Child Tax Credit to assist families this year and for years to come. Although this $500 credit is not going to cure child poverty, it will make life a little easier for families of young children.
By covering households earning up to $80,000, the proposed credit would ensure that support goes to families who need it most, benefitting around 250,000 households and more than 400,000 children.
A state-level Child Tax Credit is a critical step in making New Jersey affordable for all. I urge the committee to consider bills that, like the Child Tax Credit, assist working families become financially secure, including expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (S-2458) and WorkFirst New Jersey reforms (S-1642).