White House highlights Utah’s education, family care issues in latest report card

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President Joe Biden takes questions from reporters as he speaks about the American Rescue Plan, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Wednesday, May 5, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(ABC4) – The White House has released state-by-state fact sheets on the investments proposed by President Biden as part of his American Families Plan.

According to the overarching press release with links to the individual fact sheets, the plan is “a once-in-a-generation investment in the foundations of middle-class prosperity: education, health care, and child care.”

Additional fact sheets on how the American Families Plan advances racial equality and supports rural America have also been released.

Here’s a breakdown on how the plan could take action in Utah in eight key areas:

Higher Education

Noting that a two-year college degree in Utah costs $3,900 per year and just 51% of Utah students are able to finish postsecondary work within 6 years of enrolling, the American Families Plan would provide at least two years of community college to all students. Pell Grants would also be increased by $1,400. DREAMers and those who rely on minority-serving institutions would receive additional help as well.

Universal Pre-school

In an effort to make pre-school more easily available to families, the plan would make those programs free for children 3 and 4 years old. In addition, employees in funded pre-school programs would be paid a $15 minimum wage and receive compensation and benefits comparable to kindergarten educators.

Investing in Teachers

According to the fact sheet, just 7% of Utah educators are teachers of color. The plan would invest $9 billion to address teacher shortages, improve teacher preparation, recruit, and develop more teachers of color, while also leveraging the knowledge of veteran teachers in the training and development of future educators.

Child Care

In addition to the $15 minimum wage for child care workers, the American Families Plan would also make life easier for the parents of Utah children. The fact sheet says the plan would enable low and middle-income families to pay no more than 7% of their income on child care.

Paid Leave

The fact sheet says that now, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, paid leave is more essential than ever. More than 110 million workers lack access to paid family leave. Part of the plan is to create a national, comprehensive paid family and medical leave program to ensure workers receive partial wage replacement from the government to take time to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one, deal with a loved one’s military deployment, find safety from sexual assault, stalking, or domestic violence, and heal from their own serious illness.

Child Nutrition

With 14% of Utah children in a food insecure home, according to the fact sheet, the plan would expand free school meals to an additional 51,000 students and also supply 215,000 students with resources to purchase food during the summer months.

Health Care

With the American Family Plan, President Biden plans to build on the Affordable Care Act by lowering prescription drug costs, reducing premiums, lowering the Medicare enrollment age, creating a public option, and closing the Medicaid coverage gap. The plan would also make changes in the American Rescue Plan permanent.

Tax Cuts for Utah’s Families and Workers

In an effort to bolster the middle class and bring those from the lower class into the middle class, the American Family Plan would implement several steps. Child tax credits from the American Rescue Plan would increase to $3,000 per child 6 years and older, while those with kids under 6 would see their credits raised to $3,600 per child. Reimbursements for child care would also be increased in addition to tax credits for childless, low-wage workers.

The full fact sheet on how the American Families Plan would affect Utah is available here.

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