Sunday, April 17, 2022 | 2 a.m.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a bright spotlight on many challenges in everyday life. Among the most difficult to overcome, affecting hundreds of thousands of families across our state and the entire country, is the cost of raising children. Just last year, I had my first child, a beautiful baby boy. One of the first questions my husband and I had to address was how we were going to manage child care, and looking into it, we too realized just how expensive it can be.
Fortunately, last year, more than 382,000 Nevada families got relief thanks to the leadership of President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress, including Nevada’s senators, Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, and our Southern Nevada delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives. The American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law in early 2021, provided a much-needed tax cut for parents through an expansion of the child tax credit (CTC). This provision provided low- and middle-income parents with monthly payments of up to $3,600 for every child under the age of 6 and as much as $3,000 for every child between 6 and 17. This tax credit was directly helping families across Nevada to ease the costs of child care and recognized that families and children should be at the heart of our efforts.
The expanded CTC, however, expired at the end of 2021 because of Republican obstruction in Congress.
This tax season and the upcoming Monday filing deadline serve to remind us of the critical importance of making the expanded CTC permanent. With the high cost of child care, the rising costs of food, gas and utilities, and our continued efforts to overcome the pandemic, it is clear that now is not the time to let working families and their children fall further behind.
As a new mom, I have learned firsthand the exorbitant costs of securing good child care. I have also met several families who benefited greatly from the child tax credit. Some of them are single parents who were able to get their finances and their children’s education back on track after a costly pandemic. Others were able to return to work because they could now afford child care.
But their stories are not unique.
The expanded CTC reached more than 61 million children in 2021, including an estimated 631,000 in Nevada.
An analysis by the Center on Budget Priorities found that 9 in 10 low-income families in our state used the monthly payments on basic needs or education. Not only were parents able to buy food and clothing and cover housing, utilities and education costs, but the payments reduced childhood poverty by about 30%, bringing it to record lows, and helped cut food insufficiency by more than a quarter. In fact, more than 44,000 children in Nevada were lifted out of poverty thanks to this tax credit.
The expanded CTC amounts to a tax cut for middle- and low-income Americans — and it works. This is a policy with proven data to improve the lives of children. Unless this life-changing tax cut is renewed, the progress we have made could be lost, leaving thousands of Nevada children behind.
In Nevada alone, 92% of children and their families would lose out if the expanded CTC is not extended; and more than 86,000 children would be at risk of sliding back below the poverty line or even deeper into poverty. This is a reality we should not and cannot accept for our kids.
The dignity of greater financial stability and being able to help create better lives for our children is not a one-year goal for parents, and fostering an environment to make this possible shouldn’t just be a short-term goal for our elected leaders in Washington either. We owe it to hard-working families to say it is worth it to invest in our children, and in fact, it might be the most important investment we could make for the future.
I hope that as members of Congress file their taxes this year like the rest of us, they understand the life-altering, community-sustaining impacts of making the expanded CTC permanent.
Nicole Cannizzaro is majority leader of the Nevada Senate, and has served in the Clark County District Attorney’s office for more than 10 years.