Opinion: CT must create a permanent child tax credit

Legg Mason employee Raz Khan reads a book to third graders as part of the United Way of Western Connecticut’s Day of Action in 2017.

Legg Mason employee Raz Khan reads a book to third graders as part of the United Way of Western Connecticut’s Day of Action in 2017.

Michael Cummo, Staff Photographer / Hearst Connecticut Media

Gov. Ned Lamont has set an important goal for our state: making Connecticut the most family- friendly state in America. We agree that it’s time to take action to invest in our families. Creating a permanent, fully refundable Connecticut child tax credit of $600 per child is an important, high-impact step to support our families.

Creating a permanent CTC is as much about boosting our economy as it is about supporting families. Our state economy has suffered with more than 100,000 job openings persistently unfillable for months. That’s in no small part because our working-age population is shrinking: the most recent census report showed that between 2000 and 2022, our working-age population (people between 20 and 49) fell by 5.6 percent. A permanent CTC would help keep working-aged people (usually those with young children) here in Connecticut and help draw new young families to our state to bolster our workforce.

Connecticut is a wonderful state for families, with our high-quality public schools and libraries, good employers, and so much to explore — including local parks, mountains, woods, lakes, rivers and the Sound. However, raising a child in Connecticut is more expensive than almost anywhere else in the country. We consistently rank among the top 10 most expensive states for housing, and among the five most expensive states for child care.

This economic stress falls disproportionately on women and families of color: 57 percent of Connecticut’s Black households, 63 percent of Hispanic, and 73 percent of single-female headed households with children struggle at or below the United Ways’ of Connecticut ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed) threshold of the income needed to live in Connecticut, based on real local cost data.

Connecticut families’ budgets are further stretched given recent and substantial reductions in federal benefits. From July to December 2021, the now-expired enhanced federal child tax credit provided most low- and middle-income households payments of up to $3,600 per child. The 2021 enhanced federal child and dependent care credit, which provided a fully refundable tax credit of up to $4,000 per child, was not renewed. That’s thousands of dollars in additional income per child that our families will not have in 2023 to help make ends meet.

It’s time to create a permanent child tax credit in Connecticut to support our families and children and to make a sound investment to grow our workforce. It will pay dividends for years to come.

Lisa Tepper Bates is president and CEO of United Way of Connecticut.