After a difficult year for working parents – in which 4 million working mothers had to leave work due to inadequate childcare – the recently completed legislature in Colorado brought some welcome hope for working families.
Of several historic legislative victories, one of the greatest achievements for low-income workers and families has been a major overhaul of Colorado tax law through the passage of the House bill 21-1311 and House bill 21-1312. The recently passed bills were represented by Rep. Emily Sirota (D-Denver), Rep. Mike Weissman (D-Aurora), Sen. Chris Hansen (D-Denver) and Sen. Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City).
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This package of tax reforms will expand the state income tax credit for working families and eventually fund the Colorado child tax credit, in addition to other provisions to help small businesses. These bills will add to the incomes of hundreds of thousands of working Coloradans of all races, ages, immigration status, and zip codes. The tax code changes are paid for by removing several inefficient loopholes in the state tax code that government analyzes have shown that this is not the case Create jobs, boost the economy, or broadly benefit Coloradans.
In addition to groups like the Colorado Fiscal Institute, Bell Policy Center, and Together Colorado, parenting leaders working with Clayton Early Learning, Spring Institute, and 9to5 Colorado have played a key role in advocating this legislation that affects their lives. By making sure lawmakers heard their stories loud and clear, these parents helped give a voice to hundreds of thousands of Coloradans and their children.
I’d like to highlight some of the parents at Clayton Early Learning who mobilized their community, took leadership roles in the campaign, met with lawmakers, and held a town hall to remind us why tax policy matters to working families.
George Davis, father of two, is on both the Father Building Futures Committee with Clayton and the Parent Ambassador Program. He wrote letters, testified at one of the tax package hearings at 10:30 p.m., and supported a town hall that gave lawmakers the opportunity to work with working-class families like him. As Davis says, “Together, everyone achieves more.”
Katie Jo Hug, a single mother of two, previously worked as a paralegal and has been a parenting ambassador at Clayton Early Learning for two years. It supports measures to promote family economic security, including reform of tax policy. She hosted the Working Families Town Hall, which shed light on parenting stories and why working families care about tax policy. Hug quoted Henry Ford during the meetings: “Whether you think you can’t or believe you can, you are right.”
Ealasha Vaughner, single mother of two children, is in her third year as Parents Ambassador and has played a key role in shaping the program. Vaughner has supported social media campaigns for fair taxation, she spoke at a press conference on expanding tax credits for working families, and during the 2020 legislative session, she advocated tax reform in the Capitol.
Vaughner co-hosted the Working Families Town Hall with Hug during the legislature and presented to a group of parents with the Colorado Fiscal Institute why families should care about our tax policies. All of this while ensuring that her growing children have the love and support they need to be successful. As Vaughner wrote in her statement in support of the Tax Justice Package earlier this year, “I’m not an expert on taxes, but I know families like mine shouldn’t pay more of our money in taxes than corporations and the richest.” People in Colorado. “
People who are hardest hit by legislation are not always given the same platform as special interests who can afford to pay powerful lobbyists and fund expensive media campaigns. But just as parents are the best advocates for their children, they are often the best advocates for their community. The Clayton Parent Ambassador program connects Head Start families with state and federal politics by highlighting the leadership roles parents naturally bring to causes that affect their lives.
Expanding and increasing tax credits for working families has helped thousands of children. Children whose parents claim tax credits such as Child Tax Credit and Income Tax Credit do better in school and make more money later in life. Colorado tax reform is a monumental and historic step to improve the lives of working class families across the state, and it would not be possible without these working class families.
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