Blog Posts > Federal Relief Programs Cut Poverty in West Virginia by 71 Percent
September 3, 2021

Federal Relief Programs Cut Poverty in West Virginia by 71 Percent

Thanks to the programs enacted through COVID-related federal relief legislation this past year, an estimated 301,000 fewer West Virginians were living in poverty this year than would have been otherwise, a reduction of 71 percent, according to an analysis from the Urban Institute estimating the state’s Supplemental Poverty Measure.

The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) measures poverty after taking into account various sources of income not considered in the official poverty rate, including food stamps, subsidized school lunches, housing assistance and other assistance programs, as well as both payroll taxes and refundable tax credits.

Without these programs, the Urban Institute estimates that the share of West Virginians living in poverty would have risen from 22.3 percent in 2018 to 24.6 percent in 2021. Instead, the federal relief programs contributed to a substantial reduction of poverty, with only 7.1 percent of West Virginians living in poverty after accounting for the 11 federal relief programs.

You can read Sean’s full post here.

Over 30 Organizations Urge Support for Robust Budget Package that Meets Needs of Workers and Families

This week over 30 non-profit, advocacy, and direct service organizations representing West Virginia workers and families called on U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and West Virginia’s entire federal delegation to support a robust budget resolution that meets the needs of the moment and ensures a more equitable future after the pandemic. Supports for workers and families including paid leave, investments in child care, and supports for education, nutrition, and health care are a critical companion to the bipartisan infrastructure package.

From the letter:

“Already, families are seeing the life-changing impacts of the expansion of the Child Tax Credit, improvements in child and family nutrition programs, and health care investments. In fact, preliminary estimates show that federal programs, including COVID relief programs, reduced poverty by 71 percent in West Virginia in 2021. But all of these measures are temporary and do not fully address the structural challenges that families and workers in our state have faced on their own for far too long. One of the most significant challenges is balancing obligations to care for their families along with responsibilities at work in order to provide for their families.

“The budget package presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve the lives of all West Virginians by creating a stronger, fairer economy that works for all of us – not just those who the system has helped reach the top of the economic ladder. Implementing these policies and investing in our people will ensure that West Virginians and our economy can emerge from the pandemic with more opportunity than ever before. It isn’t enough to go back to the status quo of child care deserts, low pay for professionals who care for our children and family members who need long-term care, and where the vast majority of workers lack access to paid family and medical leave.”

You can read the full letter and the list of organizations that signed on here and you can take action today by urging West Virginia’s federal delegation to support the package here.

Understanding the Enhanced Child Tax Credit

The enhanced child tax credit (CTC) is part of the federal government’s relief package (American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA) to help families during the pandemic. In 2021, this plan increases the amount of money that families with children can get refunded from their taxes – up to $3,000 for six to 18 years old and $3,600 for children under six. The plan also helps families with low or no income get their fair share too. If made permanent, the enhanced CTC is a very powerful tool that can help up to 93 percent of West Virginia kids get the tools they need for a brighter future.

The enhanced CTC temporarily improves the traditional credit in several important ways:

  • It increased the credit by $1,600 for every child under age 6 — from $2,000 to $3,600 — and by $1,000 for every child between 6 and 17 — from $2,000 to $3,000. Filers may also receive an additional $500 for some dependents up to 24.
  • The credit now covers 17-year-olds and is available to very low- or no-income families who previously were not eligible. 
  • For the first time it is fully refundable. That means that you may use it to reduce your tax to zero, and then receive a payment from the IRS — a refund — for any credit remaining. 
  • Half of the CTC is paid monthly, in advance. This is a way to help families pay their bills as they come due instead of having to wait until they file their taxes next year.

Read Rhonda’s full blog post here.

The Legacy of Mine Worker Organizing: Our Region’s Workers Can Lead Today’s Fight

As part of the Centennial commemoration of the Battle of Blair Mountain, the WVCBP’s Myya Helm joined the ReImagine Appalachia campaign this week to reflect on the lessons for today from the worker organizing across racial lines in West Virginia that helped sparked U.S. industrial unionism and the New Deal in the 1930s. 

Additional speakers included the UMWA’s Phil Smith, Hannah Halbert, executive director of Policy Matters Ohio, and Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center.

You can find a recording of the webinar here.

Come Work With Us- Deadline Extended!

We’re hiring!The WVCBP is seeking a federal campaign advocacy organizer to assist in developing and executing a federal campaign strategy that secures both public & legislative support for progressive policy at the federal level.

You can find the full job description here.

If interested, please submit an application packet to Kelly Allen at kallen@wvpolicy.org by 5pm on Monday, September 13, 2021. Application packet should include resume, an example of a campaign workplan you’ve executed, and a link to an earned media hit you’ve generated.

Share Your Medicaid Experience with Us!

The WVCBP’s Elevating the Medicaid Enrollment Experience (EMEE) Voices Project seeks to collect stories from West Virginians who have struggled to access Medicaid across the state. Being conducted in partnership with West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, EMEE Voices will gather insight to inform which Medicaid barriers are most pertinent to West Virginians, specifically people of color.

Do you have a Medicaid experience to share? We’d appreciate your insight. Just fill out the contact form on this webpage and we’ll reach out to you soon. We look forward to learning from you! 

You can watch WVCBP’s health policy analyst Rhonda Rogombé and West Virginians for Affordable Health Care’s Mariah Plante further break down the project and its goals in this FB Live.

Family Leave Advocates Rally at Krepps Park for Picnic for Paid Leave

This week the Paid Leave Works for WV coalition, Morgantown NOW, the Morgantown NAACP, and families gathered at Krepps Park in Morgantown to talk about the need for a comprehensive paid leave policy to support all workers in West Virginia. The Dominion Post covered the event.

From the article:

Kelly Allen, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, told picnickers that the U.S. is the only developed country that doesn’t offer parental paid leave to new moms and dads. States with paid leave have higher morale and productivity and lower turnover.

The Family and Medical Leave Act allows 12 weeks unpaid leave but that’s not sufficient, she said. One in four new moms go back to work within two weeks of giving birth, she said.

But the paid leave legislation also would also allow workers to take paid time off for their own illness or for caregiving for an immediate family member, she said. And it has bipartisan support of 70% of West Virginia voters, according to polls.

Read the full article here.

Urge West Virginia’s US Senators to Support the Build Back Better Recovery Package

Earlier this year, our federal policymakers sent money to families so people can pay their rent and put food on the table, helped school districts protect teachers’ health and get kids back into the classroom, and boosted vaccine distribution—all of which will help accelerate our economy and address the immediate health and economic impacts of the pandemic.

Congress acted because we raised our voices together and demanded help. With short-term relief on the way, now Senator Manchin and Senator Capito need to look to our future and pass economic recovery legislation that ensures everyone can thrive, no matter what we look like or where we come from.

Our elected officials are drafting recovery legislation now, so it’s time to make yourself heard again. Tell them you want our government to support working families and invest in our economic recovery by making health care coverage more available and affordable, permanently expanding relief for struggling people, and ensuring children get the support they need to succeed.

Please join us in urging Senators Manchin and Capito to support the Build Back Better recovery agenda by sending them a letter here.

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