Policy Proposal

The Patrick Campaign’s vision for a healthy, robust welfare state favors strong incentives for school funding, a large amount of tax expenditures, and a great deal of efforts towards getting children out of poverty. Deval Patrick is dedicated to reforming and funding Government programs aimed to help the middle and lower classes. For too long, politicians have expected the poor to pull themselves up by their bootstraps but at the same time defunding the very programs that help them out of poverty. The current Welfare State in America expects people to work themselves out of Welfare.  Patrick has a different approach: he favors reforming and modifying existing social welfare programs in order to make them work towards actually benefiting the poor where and how they need it: in their schools and at their workplaces.

The Patrick campaign policies will center around a few proposals: The National Childcare Initiative (NCI), Standards-Based Education Reform (SBE), the Educational Equilibrium Fund (EEF), the Federal Aid in Work Attainment (FAWA) and the Lloyd Chen Dream Scholarship. These proposals will benefit and strengthen our economy on the whole because they will help the poor actually receive the help they need in getting work. It will help children stay in school and increase their opportunities towards upward mobility.

The recent trend in welfare state state politics have favored “work conditioned” incentives. In 1996, President Bill Clinton passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), which effectively changed the trend on how welfare in America was seen. The welfare state in America moved towards “earned” incentives; the state gives money to people in need based on their search for a job. However, the money given to families is not enough for survival. Additional welfare proposals are needed, in the way of education and childcare. President Clinton said the passage of the law would “end Welfare as we know it” (Bane 2005). This is not our vision for the future. The recession has had a huge impact on families with children, and it has driven many people below the poverty line. Proponents of PRWORA contend that it’s been a success because welfare and poverty rates have gone down since PRWORA’s passage, but the majority of families who have transitioned off the Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) have remained in poverty. Politicians have been touting people moving off of TANF as a victory, but is it a victory if they still find themselves in poverty without any help? The Patrick Campaign believes that Americans families that are single parent households living under the poverty line need more help, not less.

In America, there is a strong insistence upon relying on private institutions for pensions and health. While the Patrick campaign believes that the private sector is incredibly important, it also sees the total reliance on it as a mistake. Private companies and businesses don’t provide enough money to single parent families which is an oversight since single parent families are an increasing group of Americans that make up our society.

The Patrick Campaign is proposing a series of policies aimed at children in poverty and schools. These policies will help the American public in ways that TANF and PRWORA have tried to, but have failed.

National Childcare Initiative (NCI)

The National Childcare Initiative will grant funds to public schools around the US in order to provide affordable after school care for poor elementary school students. The NCI would require the children in their program to be fed a healthy meal as well as receive tutoring and help with coursework. As of 2007, more than 80% of all primary and secondary students were enrolled in public schools. This incentive would have a huge impact on American society, and for the better.  It would grant most parents, not just poor parents the much needed leverage that they need to be able to get out into the workforce.

The NCI will also offer free classes and workshops aimed at older students. This would provide training for jobs, a duty, that up until now, has been a huge burden on the private sector. Some examples of the training that people will receive, include money management, finance classes, SAT and college preparatory classes, and academic tutors.

Standards-Based Education Reform

Another important policy the Patrick Campaign intends to put forward is what we call Standards-Based Education Reform. Standards-Based Education Reform (SBE) requires schools to compete in standardized testing with measurable goals in order to improve education in schools, K-12.  According to this reform, all states set their own “basic standards” and the provide funding for all schools that pass the standardized tests.

Educational Equilibrium Fund (EEF),   (against tax for school funding)

This act requires each school to receive a flat percentage of the state’s total income for funding in order to balance out the money each school receives.

Federal Aid in Work Attainment (FAWA)

FAWA is a program that gives incentives for certain companies and/or organizations to hire a single parent as the government will pay a portion of the single parent’s wage. This will allow for the company to retain some of the wealth generated by the worker and use it to for their own means which benefits the company if it’s struggling in the competitive industry due to funds. FAWA also benefits the single parent in poverty because it allows the parent to obtain a stable job and be able to compete for the position as they are eligible for FAWA.

Lloyd Chen Dream Scholarship

The Lloyd Chen Dream Scholarship will award exceptional students with stellar academics full-ride scholarships to colleges.

Children in Poverty

The Deval Patrick Campaign, is concentrated on developing and aiding children in poverty who are from a single parent household.  In order to help single parent household rise from poverty, we realized there needs to be multiple programs implemented in order to support the multidimensional issue on single households under the poverty line. Therefore the Patrick Campaign has come with multiple programs and policies in order to address the issue to stem the tide of child poverty.

According to the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), more than 16 million children live below the federal poverty level in the United States, with these poverty rates being highest in single-family homes. The federal poverty level for a family of four is $23,550, but the NCCP says on average, families need an income about twice that number just to cover basic living expenses. These children, especially ones in single-family homes, miss out on more than hot meals and new shoes. Poverty is known to severely affect a child’s ability to learn and contributes to poor physical and mental health, as well as social, emotional, and behavioral problems (NCCP). Due to these circumstances early in life, these children are unable to reach their full potential and are unable to function as effectively in society as those who had not been exposed with poverty.

        Poor, single-parent households most likely indicate working full-time jobs while still struggling to provide basic necessities for their families. These parents are left with no choice but to pay for childcare after their children are done with school. According to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), average annual childcare fees for an infant are higher than the average amount families spend on food each year. The NACCRRA also says in order to afford average-priced infant care, a single parent would have to pay nearly $3 of every $10 they earn, something that is necessary but also something that they are unable to afford.

        One practical way the Patrick Campaign can assist these single-parent families is by providing free or affordable childcare. This program, named the National Childcare Initiative (NCI), would grant funds to public schools around the US to provide affordable afterschool care for poor elementary school students. Because many parents must rely on government aid to even feed their families, the only nutritious meals these children receive are at school. The NCI would require the children in their program to be feed a healthy meal as well as receive tutoring and help with coursework. Poor students are less likely to succeed in the classroom, so a safe place where students can work on homework and receive the individual attention they need is crucial because students are unable to get help at home with a working parent. Parents can work hard without having to worry about the safety of their children or the costs of childcare through this program.

This program will be offered at schools with more than half of the student body living under the federal poverty line. Parents must submit proper paperwork and proof of their living situation to the schools to receive these benefits. According to ChildCare Aware of America, the average annual cost for after-school center-based care was about $6,380 For low income families, this often puts a large strain on their income. The average monthly income for a family making less than $1,500 per month was $938 in 2010. 49.5 percent of that was spent on childcare (http://www.americanprogress.org). This program is geared towards children of low-income families, especially those who are from single-parent homes. These children from single-parent homes would receive program benefits for free, while children with both parents who are still under the poverty level will pay 1.95 percent of their monthly income. On average, all families with children under ages of 15 spend 7.8 percent of their monthly income on childcare (http://www.americanprogress.org). 1.95 percent would be a fourth of this average spending.

The second part of the NCI is geared towards middle and high school students who do not need supervision as younger children do. However, the Patrick Campaign would still like to see these children thrive and have safe and productive activities offered to them. These children, as well as elementary students who live within 4 miles of the school will be able to get safe rides home and to school through school bus systems. These rides will be offered every morning and afternoon for the regular school year. Students will receive a bus pass that they must show to the driver. This will indicate that they participate in the program. Students who are ineligible for the NCI may also receive rides from the school bus systems, but must pay an annual fee of $200 to do so. Free classes and workshops will also be offered to these older students on their campuses. Some examples include money management and finance classes, SAT and college preparatory classes, and academic tutors. Children from poor, single-families may have not developed the life skills to do well after high school, so practical workshops would be offered to help them succeed in society and enter the competitive job market upon graduation. These programs are also aimed at encouraging students from poor households that they have resources to change their future and come out of poverty. Again, students who attend a school with more than half of its student body under the federal poverty level are eligible for these classes and rides. They must also submit the necessary paperwork to qualify, however these programs for middle and high school students will be free for students from both single and dual parent households. Caretakers, tutors, busses, drivers, and meals will be reimbursed by the government. Schools can submit a monthly reimbursement form to the California Department of Education, who will review the form and send back money to the schools.

Another program the Patrick Campaign would like to put in place in order to help children in poverty is to implement a program called the Federal Aid in Work Attainment (FAWA). The Federal Work Study Program for college students inspired FAWA. Similar to work study, FAWA is a program that gives incentive for certain companies and/or organizations to hire a single parent as the government will pay a portion of the single parent’s wage. This will allow for the company to retain some of the wealth generated by the worker and use it to for their own means which benefits the company if it’s struggling in the competitive industry due to funds. FAWA also benefits the single parent in poverty because it allows the parent to obtain a stable job and be able to compete for the position as they are eligible for FAWA. FAWA will also implement more opportunities for having a job where someone can work from home which will aid single parents who have young children and would prefer to care for their children then to send them to daycare. In order for single parent households to find jobs that offer positions with FAWA, a website will be created to catalog the list of jobs that have been approved with FAWA so that parents can easily access this resource.

        Companies and/or organization must use the Federal Aide in Work Attainment Request Form in order to appeal for FAWA if they wish to have FAWA as an option for any open position within their company/organization. The governmental department responsible for FAWA will review the request and if they deem the jobs available as viable for FAWA then the approval process will begin. After filling the necessary paperwork, it will be a matter of filling the position. The department will also review the registry of existing jobs and contact the company if they are interested in providing FAWA as an option for the position. A worker can also petition for their position to earn federal aid by filling out a Federal Aid in Work Attainment Petition Form which will need both the approval of the employers and governmental department overseeing the FAWA program.

        Another way to help single household parents is by having more scholarships in order to motivate single household parents and their children to pursue an education. Money can be a barricade for families in poverty from pursuing higher education. Due to their mentality that they need to support their family or put bread the dinner table, they are more likely to pursue a job instead of going to college which costs money. By having these scholarships, it allows them to feel more assured and not be concerned about the costs of getting an education. These scholarships will target students who are a single household parent or raised by a single household parent and had lived under the poverty line. The government will set aside more money for these scholarships. One scholarship will be the Lloyd Chen Dream Scholarship which will award exceptional students with stellar academics with a full-ride scholarship to achieve their dreams. This scholarship is in inspiration of Lloyd Chen who raised by a single mother in poverty but overcame these blockades in order to pursue a degree in higher education. Students will be assessed by their academics, leadership skills and/or positions, and will be asked to write an essay pertaining to poverty. Lastly, at least two references will be asked upon submitting the application to the scholarship.

        In addition to scholarships, the Patrick Campaign would also like to implement policies and opportunities to have more online courses or courses more readily available online so that single parents can access lecture materials when they can. By making courses more flexible, it allows these parents to attend to their many obligations such as work or taking care of young children. Having online courses will help single household parents to obtain their degrees earlier so that they can obtain a stable job sooner which will help them get out of poverty.

        With this, we find that having supplementary courses for practical uses such as workshops on budgeting, money management, resume writing, interview practices, and more can be essential components in assisting families overcome poverty. By learning smart ways to save money and by practicing good work ethics, one workshop can help. Following the idea of having courses available online, these workshops can too be available online. However to have them available in person, it can be helpful so these workshops can be held on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis depending on its popularity and demands.

Education and Standardized Testing

The Standards-Based Education Reform (SBE) requires schools to compete in standardized testing with measurable goals in order to improve education in schools, K-12.  According to this reform, all states set their own “basic standards” and the provide funding for all schools that pass the standardized tests.  Each student in every public school is tested and if 50% of the students pass, the school is rewarded financially and funded for advancing reading and math levels for the upcoming year. On the contrary, schools that don’t pass the standard are not rewarded and have to wait an entire year in order to retest.

However, by setting these standards, states are essentially avoiding the true conflict with our school system.  We have come to realize that the problem with education arrives in the lower-middle class schools and students sector, but not necessarily because they are less capable than other schools.  Because these schools and students are at a disadvantage geographically, culturally, socially, and educationally, the SBE will widen the gap between affluent and destitute school systems over the next few years.  Therefore, we will incorporate the new standards-based education reform known as the

Educational Assistance Act (EAA), which acts in opposition to the SBE.  Instead of rewarding schools that reach the basic standards of excellence designed by the state, the EAA focuses on applying grants and other funds to those schools in need of educational assistance, with intent of having 80% of schools in each state pass the bar by 2021.  As a result, each state that reaches this 80% will receive funding for acquiring what they need in order to raise the basic standardized testing bar the following year.   By 2021, each state that receives this funding should have advanced their reading and math levels by one year.

Inner city schools represent the majority of the schools that struggle with passing the standardized tests and as a result are receiving limited funding. More affluent neighborhood schools, who already obtain most of the resources for scoring well on these test, are receiving even more funding from the SBE. This method only widens our educational gap within our public schooling. The EAA will reverse this policy and schools with low resources who struggle with testing will be given much needed support. Schools that continuously pass our standardized tests will benefit the least from this reform. We still encourage the achievements of good-testing and will honor such schools as reward, however funding should be distributed to schools who struggle due to the lack of resources.

Another problem with our educational system is the way we fund each school,   individually.  Our schools are funded as a percentage of the income of people of the surrounding neighborhood.  In a sense, an upper-class city will have more funding for their schools, while those cities that live in poverty will have less funding for schools, according to the current policy.  Therefore, as precedent to the EAA, we will incorporate the Educational Equilibrium Fund (EEF), which will balance the funding for each school, regardless of the income of the school’s neighboring residence.  Instead, this act requires each school to receive a flat percentage of the state’s total income for funding in order to balance out the money each school receives.  The income of each states’ citizens as a whole will dictate funds for the schools, not individually by the city as it stands today.  The (EEF) will give all schools a fair chance at passing the standardized tests each year.

The EEF is designed to benefit students in poorer school districts, as they are already at a greater disadvantage considering their geographical location and the economical standing of their residing neighborhood. This reform is a policy in which encompasses the Patrick campaign’s collective visions of reducing the educational gap in the United States.

Tax and Tax Expenditure

There is a widening disparity in the income gap between America’s richest citizens and the middle class. There are those who claim the dangers of big government with far less focus on big business, talking down social programs with no real alternative. Philanthropy at this level does exist but it is, by far, the exception. Decisions made by the most powerful and influential people often carry the weight of their agenda, ultimately serving to aid in upholding the status-quo. This system awards itself at the expense of greater society. Capitalism, at the level of laissez faire, serves to make the rich, richer and the poor, poorer. It simply produces a new oppressive elite acting in place of a tyrannical government. Therefore, where greed and corruption are capable of greatly imbalancing equality in the United States through capital, so too should mechanisms be set in place to disallow the unfettered use of capital to place the majority of gains into the hands of the few. The same checks and balances that limit government need to regulate limitations on big business. This will be done in the form of a more redistributive tax code. Tax expenditure programs will not be eliminated, but there will be limitations on what can be done with a percentage of the money lost to tax revenues for programs that do not benefit the greater public. If businesses are to take some slack off of government in providing social policy, a broader portion of the public must be supported by these programs.

Maintenance of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

The EITC has been a necessary support for lower income families and individuals. Most tax expenditures could be considered tax breaks for corporations as incentives to provide benefits to employees. The EITC, however, is an exception in providing relief to those individuals that need it the most. It, therefore, is an indispensable program in the United States’ social welfare system.

Effective tax rates for high earners

Though income tax brackets in the United States appear to be progressive, the effective rates applied to the highest earners in society are often closer to 22%. The benefits from tax expenditures go overwhelmingly to more affluent individuals. As a percentage of larger incomes, tax expenditures reduce revenue that could be placed into social programs for struggling Americans and strengthens those who already have firmer footings. Granted, expenditure can help middle class Americans afford housing (and housing improvements), but it does even less for Americans that cannot. Thus, the highest earners should be required to show proof of greater benefits to society as a whole if they are to reap greater benefits from expenditures. Else, those expenditures should not be available to them, as a higher effective tax rate will do more for society and reflectively, every individual.

New Employees and Higher Wages for current workers (NEHW)

Expenditures are not, in total, a bad thing. They are another way of paying for benefits or services without directly extracting taxes from businesses or individuals. A percentage of wages given to unskilled workers not to exceed 60% of every dollar after minimum wage in large companies (80% for small business with fewer than 50 employees) may be claimed as a tax expenditure.

Expenditure for Training Services and Educational Funds for the public (TSEF)

Institutions that provide funds or services for training and educating the public will also be entitled to tax expenditures relevant to the services they provide with reduced property taxes for the use of their facilities and reductions in tax liability for educational grants.

The addition of two income tax brackets

Additional tax brackets should be added for the highest earners in society. Those making over $550k and $750k would be placed into these income tax brackets. The tax rates on these earners will be 41 and 43% respectively.

Value Added Tax

Considered a regressive tax, Value Added Taxes place a larger burden on middle and lower classes. Taxes are collected throughout the production process of goods that can be expected to reflect on the final price of the good in the marketplace. Thus, the cost is ultimately paid by the consumer as consumers pay a greater percentage of their incomes on sales taxes. However, the taxes can be used to supplement services for the poorest of the poor to stave off poverty.

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