Day: March 1, 2013

Private Charity and Public Choice: How States’ Tax Credit Programs Give Voluntary Education Funding a Boost

Please join us for Cascade’s monthly Policy Picnic led by Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland’s Director, Kathryn Hickok, on Wednesday, March 6, at noon.

Kathryn will be leading a discussion about states with tax credits (or voucher programs) and how those law-enabled options boost the private dollars being spent charitably on educational choice and help parents take advantage of other options. Choice bills make both scholarship donors’ and parents’ money go farther.  They incentivize investing in education while respecting market choice and the voluntary nature of giving and of parents’ choosing schools.

Admission is free. Please bring your own lunch. Coffee and cookies will be served. Space is limited to ten guests on a first come, first served basis, so sign up early. To RSVP, email Patrick Schmitt at patrick@cascadepolicy.org or call 503-242-0900.

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Wanted: More Life with Parents, Not Government Preschool

In his February 12 State of the Union address, President Obama called for another “universal” government program―universal preschool.

“…[N]one of it will matter unless we also equip our citizens with the skills and training to fill those jobs.

“And that has to start at the earliest possible age. You know, study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road.

“But today, fewer than three in ten 4-year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool. And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives. So, tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America.”

Never mind that the federal budget today cannot possibly pay for universal preschool, or that it’s not the role of government to provide glorified daycare for every American child.

The truth is, the government has been trying to close the “preschool gap” for more than forty years, with almost nothing to show for it. For years, the Head Start program, begun by President Johnson in 1965, has been known to be a failure by both academic and social development standards.

According to Elise Hilton of the Acton Institute, “[e]ven the government knows this is true. The Department of Health and Human Services has admitted ‘by third grade, the $8 billion Head Start program had little to no impact on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting practices of participants. On a few measures, access to Head Start had harmful effects on children.’”

Let’s not go farther down that road. We don’t need every American child spending more time in classrooms, younger and younger. We need an economy that empowers parents both to support their families and to spend time with their toddlers, letting them experience the wonders of the real world. More kids need to be able to explore life with Mom and Dad. Then more of them will come to grade school ready to learn.

Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland program at Cascade Policy Institute.

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Cascade in the Capitol: Testimony on benefits of the Earned Income Tax Credit and harm done by the minimum wage

Testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue
Regarding SB 326 and SB 507
by Steve Buckstein

Good afternoon, Chair Burdick and members of the Committee. My name is Steve Buckstein. I’m Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy research center based in Portland.

Cascade is supportive of any legislation that allows people to keep more of their own income, as these bills do. When the tax burden is diminished or eliminated, people are incentivized to work harder. This benefits both individual workers as well as the broader community.

However, if your goal is to help raise people out of poverty and lower unemployment, you should be aware that the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) works at cross-purposes with the state’s high minimum wage law, which punishes employers for trying to offer jobs to entry-level workers.

The contrast between the two approaches was quantified in a study published last year by economists Joseph Sabia and Robert Nielsen, which found a 1% reduction in state poverty rates associated with each 1% increase in a state’s EITC. Yet, a 2007 study by Mr. Sabia found that single mothers were made worse off by increases in the minimum wage: Their employment dropped by 6% for each 10% hike in the minimum wage.

I understand that you will consider SB 326 and SB 507 as stand-alone measures, while Oregon voters have said that they want a high minimum wage. But the two approaches are in conflict, and the committee would do well to address the punitive effects of minimum wage laws in the future.

Thank you.

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