It was a modest, incremental step, but the House Finance Committee deserves praise for approving a bill this morning that would increase the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 3.5% of the federal credit to 5%. The bottom line on this proposal is that it will put 20+ million in new dollars into the pockets of lower income working families each year. The bill was advanced by a team of four main co-sponsors: Representatives William Wainwright, Jennifer Weiss, Paul Luebke and Deborah Ross.
Assuming the measure passes the House (and that seems assured) the real question will be what kind of reception it will receive in the Senate. Usually, Senate leadership is more skeptical of helping people at the bottom and tends to favor "trickledown" tax policy.
The only notable complaint about the bill in committee came from House Minority Leader Paul Stam who rightfully zinged the sponsors with the observation that the EITC replaces some of the money that low-income people spend on the state lottery tax. Stam called it "a transfer from the gambling poor to the non-gambling poor." Of course, most of the EITC expansion sponsors opposed the lottery, but Stam does make a sobering a point.
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