2021 04 07 WilsonYardPresserCHICAGO – State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago), joined by advocates from Voices for Illinois Children, SEIU Healthcare and Start Early, as well as members of the community, spoke out about his legislation creating a new $600-per-child state income tax credit to help working families make ends meet at a Wednesday press conference.

“As we reinvest in our communities following the pandemic, we must make sure working families are included,” Simmons said. “This pandemic has wrought devastation on families of color and children living in poverty in particular, and too often, they’re left out of the conversation.”

Simmons’ plan would provide a $600-per-child income tax credit for single parents making less than $40,000 per year and two-parent households that make less than $60,000. It would gradually phase out for parents at higher income levels.

“How is it not a crisis when one-third of all Illinois children are below 200% of the federal poverty level and two-thirds of African-American children are below that level?” said Voices Executive Director Tasha Green Cruzat. “These are children facing health, housing, and nutritional issues. The pandemic has only made the situation worse, and we need to make the long-term commitment and investments to pull these children and their families out of poverty.”

According to Voices’ research, 976,000 Illinois children – or 35% – fall below 200% of the federal poverty level. The statistics are even worse for Black and Latinx families. In 2019, 67% of Black children under age 6 were in extreme poverty, as were 56% of Latinx children in that age range.

“I see a child tax credit as a much-needed resource for parents who have been navigating unprecedented difficulties this past year at home, at work, and in keeping their children safe,” said Faith Arnold of SEIU Healthcare. “They deserve a form of relief that helps them in their pocketbooks.”

The proposed legislation would have a strong impact on essential and hospitality workers. Statistically, women and people of color hold a disproportionate number of essential jobs, and one out of every three hospitality workers in Illinois have lost their jobs over the past year.

“Even though we’ve had struggles this year, my family is fortunate to be able to make ends meet,” said Janet Soto, 35, a resident of Uptown. “So many others aren’t. Families need help right now.”

Simmons’ legislation, Senate Bill 2132, has been assigned to the Senate Revenue Committee, where it awaits a hearing.

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