Update on Senate Budget Proposal
By Marge Clark, BVM
April 15, 2015
The Senate Budget Proposal passed just before members left for their two-week Passover/Easter Recess. Although much of this proposal, as well as the one passed by the House, is devastating to people of low- or middle-income, there are some bright spots in amendments that were approved with votes from both parties. These are nonbinding, but there is hope they might be included in the final Joint Budget Resolution and be brought to reality through appropriations. They include items that NETWORK has been working on:
- Paid Sick Leave (passed 61-39) to improve workplace benefits and reduce healthcare costs. Would allow workers to earn paid sick time for themselves or to care for ill family members. Workers in higher paid fields expect and receive this! But, most of your food service workers are required to work when ill, take unpaid leave – or perhaps lose their jobs.
- Ending Discrimination Against Pregnant Workers (passed 100-0). Recall the current Supreme Court case involving the UPS worker who could not get a position lifting lighter packages – although someone with another illness could.
- Middle Class Tax Cuts (passed 73 – 27) include the extension and expansion of the refundable tax credits such as the Working Families Tax Relief Act, American Opportunity Tax Credit, and the Helping Working Families Afford Child Care Act. There are other middle class tax cuts we strongly support, but were not named in this amendment: making permanent, with the 2009 improvements, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. Hopefully, these will be taken up and passed.
As Senate conferees begin to meet with House conferees it is important that these items are kept on the table.