According to a study released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in Washington, D.C., approximately 56,000 Connecticut residents have been kept out of poverty thanks to assistance from seven provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The seven provisions looked at in the study included the expanded Child Tax Credit, expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, Making Work Pay Tax Credit, the extension of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Benefits Credit, an increase in food stamp benefit levels, a $25 per week payment supplement to unemployment benefits and a one-time $250 payment to elderly and disabled individuals who receive Social Security, Social Security Insurance or veterans’ benefits.
All of these benefits of the Recovery Act seek to help individuals by directly increasing their monetary income or relieving them of tax burdens. The study did not look at job recovery provisions.
However, besides helping families make end’s meet, Jamey Bell, Executive Director of Connecticut Voices for Children, said the Recovery Act is also helping to stimulate the economy.
“When Connecticut families spend the extra nutrition assistance or jobless benefits they get from the Recovery Act in local stores, that is a direct boost to the local economy,” Bell said. “It helps those stores to stay in business and avoid laying off workers.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd also had positive things to say in response to the release of the report.
“The Recovery Act was designed to help middle class families weather these tough economic times,” Dodd said. “This report shows that our effort helped tens of thousands of Connecticut families. And while we work to get our economy back on track, I will continue to do everything in my power to prevent and alleviate the hardships facing the people of Connecticut.”
Not only has the Act prevented residents from falling into poverty, the study says that it has also helped reduce the severity of poverty for approximately 263,000 Connecticut residents who were already under the poverty line.
Despite the good news, Connecticut Voices for Children is still keeping in mind that the Recovery Act is not the end-all for the recession. The fact that the government assistance to Connecticut families won’t last forever is something they must think about for the future.
“It’s a concern because it’s a one-time limited federal shot in the arm, so to speak,” said Bell.
Also, according to the governor’s office, stimulus money has only helped the state of Connecticut retain or create 6,000 jobs, and only 300 of those jobs are in the private sector.
Though the study did not look at the provisions of the Recovery Act that dealt with job creation, Bell also mentioned the urgent need for Connecticut lawmakers to work on a revenue system for the state that will allow sustainable growth.
In the past, when the national economy has started to come out of a recession, Connecticut has been one of the last to come out of the recession, Bell said.
The state of Connecticut wasn’t doing so well before the recession began, said Bell. “Now we’re in really bad shape.”