Bennet talks and listens Child Tax Credit in Alamosa roundtable

Photo by Priscilla Waggoner Sen. Michael Bennet listens to ASD Asst Supt Luis Murillo at Thursday's CTC roundtable in Alamosa.

ALAMOSA — Surrounded by parents, the superintendent and assistant superintendent of Alamosa School District, Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman, the Director of Human Resources for Alamosa County Myra McKibbon, staff associated with the Boys and Girls Club of the San Luis Valley and local residents interested in learning more about the program, Senator Michael Bennet (D) hosted a roundtable discussion on Thursday morning, Sept. 9, to hear how the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) is benefiting families in Alamosa.

Held at the Friends Pavilion, Bennet opened the discussion by setting the context of how childhood poverty in the United States ranks in comparison to other nations in the world and highlighting the benefits he has been hearing since the expanded Child Tax Credit took effect in July.

“Out of 41 developed nations in the world, the United States ranks 38th in the numbers of children impacted by childhood poverty,” Bennet said. “But since July, these payments have helped an overwhelming majority of parents afford things like childcare, groceries, school supplies and other necessary expenses.”

Luis Murillo, Assistant Superintendent of ASD, mentioned similar stories, including a parent being able to pay off a family car, which frees up money to care for children, and a mother who was able to buy clothes for her children.

“My kids are really active in school, and they go to dance at a studio in town,” said Ruby Beltran, a parent and member of the SLV Early Childhood Council. “This tax credit has helped me pay or their dance shoes and other costs that are a part of extracurricular activities.”

“I’m a single parent. The child tax credit has helped me pay my rent. It’s also helped with my girls who participate in sports,” said Amberly Atencio, parent, and member of the SLV Early Childhood Council.

After suggesting that there be a stronger “educational component” for the public about how the Child Tax Credit works, Mayor Coleman spoke of the positive impact the tax credit was having on the quality of life among those who are part of the Alamosa community.

“The Child Tax Credit give families facing financial challenges the hope to move forward. It gives them the freedom to not have to choose between paying the utility bill or buying groceries,” Coleman said.

Another parent attending the roundtable discussed how the Child Tax Credit was helpful to couples who live in an area with relatively low wages and having to choose between a second income and one of the parents foregoing a job because they could not afford childcare — a dilemma experienced by families that could be considered middle class.  

The roundtable was interactive with participants asking questions about the source of funding for the Child Tax Credit — which was part of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan — or the likelihood of it being extended past tax year 2021 — which Bennet suggested was likely if the reconciliation bill passes. Bennet answered each question, occasionally making notes of suggestions offered concerning education and access online.

Sherri Valdez, moderator of the roundtable and Executive Director of the Early Childhood Council San Luis Valley, weighed in.

“The Child Tax Credit provides a historic investment in working families,” she said. “As the director of a local non-profit organization, we work with over 200 children and their families each year that live in poverty or have additional risk factors for optimal child development and school readiness. The Child Tax Credit is helping our families cover the cost of childcare, groceries, and housing, alleviating some of the stress they experience and helping them access basic needs and additional services. Legislation making the increased Child Tax Credit permanent would be a game changer for Colorado kids and families.”

Bennet closed the roundtable on an optimistic note.

“As we saw here in Alamosa, the expanded Child Tax Credit is already making a huge difference in the lives of families in Colorado and boosting incomes. I’ll take the stories I heard today back with me to Washington next week as we work to lock in this tax credit expansion for years to come,” Bennet said.

Sen. Bennet has championed the expansion of the CTC for years. In March 2021, President Biden signed into law a one-year expansion of the CTC, based on Bennet’s American Family Act, in the American Rescue Plan Act.

This expansion has the potential to cut nationwide child poverty nearly in half this year and benefit 90% of American children. 

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau released in August found economic hardship declined in households with children following the first payments of the expanded CTC in July. The data also shows food insufficiency dropped in households with children.

In his American Families Plan, Biden proposed permanent full refundability of the CTC, as well as extending the enhanced CTC value and monthly payments through 2025. The president also committed to working with Congress to make the full, expanded CTC permanent. Bennet and his colleagues continue to push for a permanent expansion of the Child Tax Credit in the Build Back Better package.

Whether in DC and hosting an event online, having call-in town halls or meeting with parents and local leaders in Colorado while the Senate has been on recess, Sen. Bennet has spent a significant amount of time holding similar conversations and discussions as the expanded Child Tax Credit becomes a reality, for however long, in the lives of Colorado families.