Ohio House Democrats are pushing for a new bill called the “Thriving Families Tax Credit” to provide a tax credit for middle and low-income families to compensate for the expiration of pandemic-era benefits. State Reps. Casey Weinstein and Lauren McNally are spearheading the legislation, which aims to address the costs of child care and other necessities.
During a press conference, Weinstein emphasized the importance of this investment in children, suggesting that it should be treated as a priority alongside funding for public schools. The bill will need to navigate through Republican supermajorities in both the Ohio House and Ohio Senate and receive Governor Mike DeWine’s signature to become law.
While Weinstein did not provide a total cost for the bill, he outlined that the tax credit would amount to $1,000 per year for children aged 0 to 5 and $500 annually for children aged 6 to 17. Families with an annual household income of $65,000 or less would be eligible for the full benefit, with a gradual reduction for those earning more than $65,000, up to a cap of $85,000 per year.
According to bill sponsors’ calculations, approximately 986,000 families in urban, suburban, and rural areas would qualify for the tax credit. More than half of eligible families come from Ohio’s 32 Appalachian counties. The proposed tax credit would provide much-needed support to families like Benisha Wright’s, who shared her story during the press conference. Wright mentioned how financial hardships have forced her to make difficult choices between necessities and credit card expenses, leaving her family unable to account for unforeseen expenses.
The advocacy and engagement manager at the Ohio Association of Food Banks, Sarah Kuhns, stressed that families should not have to decide between basic needs, including food. She highlighted the increasing number of Ohioans relying on food banks in the past three years, reinforcing the connection between hunger and poverty.
Examples of successful policies in reducing poverty and supporting families with children include the federal child tax credit implemented during COVID-19 relief programs. Weinstein pointed out that 13 other states already have state child tax credits, which have positively impacted childhood poverty levels nationwide. He emphasized that reducing stressors through such credits enables parents to focus on various aspects, including staying in the workforce, paying off debt, assisting children with their education, or starting small businesses.
The bill will need to be officially introduced and pass through a House committee before reaching a vote on the House floor and eventually moving on to the Senate. Its success hinges on garnering bipartisan support in the Republican-dominated legislature.