With the April 1 deadline to pass a state budget for the next fiscal year just a week away, Mayor Eric Adams is throwing his weight behind expanding the state Earned Income Tax Credit, which he successfully lobbied for last year, and the child tax credit in the final Albany spending plan.
Adams rallied at 32BJ SEIU headquarters in lower Manhattan on Friday morning with the union’s leaders and heads of some of the city’s other powerful labor groups including the Hotel Trades Council (HTC) and District Council 37 (DC37) as well as state and city pols.
The measures Adams, labor leaders and state lawmakers are seeking would make the child tax credit available to families with children under three years of age and allow undocumented immigrants — who file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security Number — eligible for the EITC.
Both of those measures were included in the state Senate and Assembly’s budget proposals earlier this month, but weren’t part of Governor Kathy Hochul’s executive budget plan.
Manny Pastreich, president of 32BJ, said he believes support from the state legislature could get the effort over the finish line.
“We have the momentum and the support to make this permanent, let’s do it,” Pastreich said. “Now’s the time to get over the finish line.”
The mayor — who’s often cited the EITC as one of his key first year wins in Albany — said both tax credits are proven ways to lift families out of poverty, which falls in line with the so-called “Working People’s Agenda” he laid out in his State of the City address in January.
“It is clear that the Earned Income Tax Credit helps lift children out of poverty,” Adams said. “So we can either pay now, a small amount, or pay later, a larger amount.”
“This is so important, and [to] have this unified body of city and state and union and working people focused on a working people’s agenda, that’s the way we save this city,” he added. “You helped bring in a working people’s mayor, that’s why we have a Working People’s Agenda. And this is an important moment for us in Albany and the City Council, we must be unified around lifting working people out of poverty.”
Both enhancements to the tax credits were a component of a bill first proposed by state Senator Andrew Gounardes (D-Brooklyn), who was also present at the rally, first introduced late last year. Gounardes’ bill calls for a “Working Families Tax Credit,” which would grant families $500 per child regardless of their income and up to $1,500 per child for single parents making below $25,000-a-year and for two-parent families making $50,000 annually.
According to Goundardes, enacting his legislation would cut the state’s child poverty rate by 20%. His bill is modeled on the now-expired expanded federal child tax credit, enacted through the American Rescue Plan, which gave eligible families $300 a month for a six-month period in 2021.
“When the federal government passed the expanded child tax credit through the American Rescue Plan, we cut the poverty rate in this country by 50%,” he said. “That’s the type of bold, transformational, anti-poverty initiative we need to see right here in New York.”
Although the state Senate and Assembly’s budget resolutions — often referred to as one-house resolutions — didn’t include the entirety of his bill, Gounardes characterized them as a “great start.”
“The fact that both the Assembly and [state] Senate have put in versions of expanding the ETCI and the child tax credit in their one-house resolutions is a great start,” Goundardes told amNewYork Metro. “It’s not everything that’s in my bill but it’s something to build upon in the years ahead.”
Considering the sheer size of Hochul’s executive budget, Goundardes said, the state should be able to find the money to fund making both tax credits available to more New Yorkers.
“The governor’s budget proposed $227 billion, with a B, billion dollars, for the state of New York,” the senator said. “[That’s the] second largest budget in the country [and] the seventh largest budget in the world. I can think of 227 billion ways we can lift people out of poverty in this state if we have the will to do it.”