(The Center Square) – All eyes are on talks between the Biden administration and Republican congressional leaders to find consensus on an infrastructure package that has been slashed from $ 2.23 trillion to $ 1 trillion dollars.
But Florida U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott are also gearing up for the next big battle – pushing back a series of reprehensible provisions in Biden’s proposed $ 1.8 trillion U.S. Family Plan.
Unveiled ahead of a joint session of Congress on April 28, the plan provides $ 1 billion for child care, universal kindergarten for all ages 3-4, free community college, and paid family / sick leave initiatives and is offering $ 800 million in tax cuts for families with children, including a âhistoric expansionâ of the monthly child tax credit.
The American Families Plan extends to 2025. The American Rescue Plan Child Tax Credit increases to $ 3,000 per child 6 years of age and over and $ 3,600 per child under 6 years of age. just like the capital gains tax.
“This extension will benefit 3.833 million children in Florida, including 2.297 million children of color,” says the White House. âIt is estimated that this proposal will lift 275,000 children out of poverty in Florida and reduce child poverty in the state by 38%. “
But Rubio said the child tax credit extension expired under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, as he and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, proposed in a measure unsuccessful, would have helped families more.
“But Democrats chose the alternative: simply handing money over to parents, including those already on welfare or in households where no one works,” Rubio said in a statement, calling the plan de Biden’s “return to the failed welfare system of the 1990s.”
Scott, in a statement, urged Biden to “tell the truth about his plans to raise taxes for American families to pay for his massive spending proposals.”
“Even if Biden waved his liberal wand and spent the $ 6 trillion” in spending his administration proposed in the first 100 days, “we would still be $ 2.5 trillion short to pay for his reckless spending plans “said Scott.
According to the White House, here’s how the U.S. Family Plan would affect Florida:
Higher Education: The proposal provides for two years of free community college. In Florida, more than 800,000 are enrolled in 28 community colleges, of which approximately 300,000 are full-time. The average cost for a two-year degree in Florida is $ 3,238 per year.
The plan also increases the maximum amount of the Pell Grant by approximately $ 1,400. On average, 474,450 post-secondary students in Florida depend on Pell Grants.
Universal preschool: All but six states offer voluntary universal pre-K, including Florida, which is one of only two states that does not have funding restrictions in place based on an enrollment cap.
Yet less than half of Florida’s 3-4 year olds attend kindergarten; only 222,275 of the 465,130 eligible Floridians aged 3 to 4 are enrolled in state-funded preschools this year, according to the White House.
Retention / recruitment of teachers: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has led a two-year effort to raise salaries for state teachers from the bottom five to the top five, with lawmakers approving an additional $ 550 million in next year’s budget to increase salaries teacher minimum at $ 47,500 statewide. Nonetheless, Florida is 13% below teacher recruitment targets.
The plan allocates $ 9 billion to states to address anticipated shortages in high-need areas such as special education and bilingual education, with a focus on recruiting minorities.
According to the White House, only 33% of teachers in Florida are “people of color,” while “students of color” make up 62% of the state’s 2.9 million K-12 residents. .
Childcare: The average annual cost of babysitting a child in Florida is $ 8,618, more than 10% of the average income of a Florida family, according to the White House.
The plan would allow low- and middle-income families to pay no more than 7% of their income for child care, which would allow parents of about 487,900 Florida children to enroll.
Child feeding: According to the White House, 16% of Florida children live in âfood insecure householdsâ and 30% are obese. The plan extends access to free school meals to an additional 1.139 million students in Florida and provides up to 2 million “resources to buy food during the summer.”
Health insurance costs: Florida leads the country for enrollment in the health insurance exchange offered under the Affordable Care Act. More than 2,120,350 Floridians were registered at the start of April.
The US bailout provided two years of lower exchange premiums. The âAmerican Family Planâ makes these reductions permanent, saving about 589,100 Floridians hundreds of bonuses each year.