Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Tuesday, March 11, 2014, on the latest Health Insurance Marketplace sign-up numbers released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
“Alabama stands out in today’s release of Marketplace sign-up numbers under the Affordable Care Act. More than 55,000 Alabamians have seen their lives change for the better by gaining the peace of mind that comes with access to affordable health care.
“Even more people stand to benefit in the final weeks of initial open enrollment. More than 134,000 Alabamians who have completed applications for Marketplace coverage have been found eligible to enroll in a plan, but most have not chosen a plan yet. The number of people who apply and sign up for plans will continue to grow in the weeks to come.
“Alabama is making a strong showing among the states despite considerable obstacles. That’s a testament to creative, energetic outreach work by Navigator groups and other enrollment assisters. It’s also a testament to the hard work of groups like Bama Covered, a student-driven enrollment initiative on college campuses across the state. These groups and many others are improving lives by connecting Alabamians with affordable health coverage.”
Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Wednesday, March 5, 2014, on President Obama’s proposal to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit:
“Reducing poverty and boosting the economy without adding a dime to the deficit is a great idea, and that’s just what President Obama’s budget would do. The president’s plan to make major improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit would help 200,000 Alabamians next year. This idea would encourage work while reducing income inequality.
“The EITC and the Child Tax Credit are powerful anti-poverty tools for families with children. These two credits lifted 166,000 Alabamians, including 90,000 children, out of poverty each year, on average, over 2010 to 2012. Raising the maximum EITC for childless workers and expanding eligibility for young workers between the ages of 21 and 25 would provide a greater incentive to work and help them gain a foothold in the economy.
“The president’s plan also would help tens of millions of low-income working families by making permanent the 2009 improvements to the EITC and CTC. These improvements have made more families eligible and increased the credit for many others. More than 287,000 families in Alabama benefited from these improvements last year, and they’ve lifted 25,600 Alabamians out of poverty each year, on average, over 2009 to 2012.
“The EITC rewards employment among parents, and studies show it helps their children do better in school. It also helps our economy by letting workers keep more of what they earn and spend those dollars right here in Alabama. President Obama’s proposal would build on this record of success.”
To learn more about the effects of the EITC and CTC in Alabama, check out this fact sheet from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Only three states rank below Alabama in long-term budget planning, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a nonpartisan research organization in Washington, D.C. The report finds that Alabama could promote greater government efficiency and improve its business climate by adopting budget-planning tools that have proved effective in neighboring states, such as a regular tax expenditure report and detailed multi-year projections of overall revenues and spending.
"Alabama can and should do more long-term planning to help strengthen our economy and make our government more efficient and transparent," ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister said. "People across the political spectrum can agree that adopting tools to help our leaders make good long-term decisions about our state's future is in everyone's best interest."
How much should people have to pay to get financial help in a tight spot? Payday and auto title lending are two forms of high-cost credit marketed toward Alabamians who are desperate for short-term cash. These loans carry triple-digit interest rates that can threaten the economic well-being of borrowers who fall behind on payments.
How long should former drug felons who have completed their prison term continue to pay for their crime? Alabama is one of 10 states that still impose a lifetime ban on receipt of SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) benefits for anyone who has ever had a felony drug conviction, and one of 12 states with a similar ban on receipt of TANF (formerly known as welfare) benefits. The bans include no exceptions for people who have completed their sentences, complied with their probation terms, paid all their fines and penalties, and overcome their addictions.
This issue brief examines how many Alabamians may be affected by this lifetime ban and the potential financial and social effects of keeping it in place.
More than 900,000 Alabamians -- nearly one in five -- will see their food assistance benefits cut beginning Nov. 1, 2013, when a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) expires. More than 47 million Americans, including 22 million children, will face the reductions. For a family of three in Alabama, the cuts mean a reduction of $29 each month. Families' benefits this month now will average less than $1.40 per person per meal.
"SNAP has been a powerful tool to keep families out of poverty during the long recession and recovery, and for most of the 910,000 Alabamians still on SNAP, it doesn't feel like the recession has ended," ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister said. "To adjust for this week's cuts, many struggling families in Alabama will literally have to tighten their belts."