How would Build Back Better bill impact AZ students & families? - AZEdNews
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How would Build Back Better bill impact AZ students & families?

Photo By Andy Feliciotti On Unsplash

Are you curious about how the Build Back Better bill working its way through Congress will impact Arizona students and families? Then see what a few Arizonans say.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Build Back Better billPresident Joe Biden’s plan to grow the economy by rebuilding – the middle class – just days after President Biden signed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. After the U.S. Senate takes action on the Build Back Better bill it will be sent back to the House for a vote. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hopes action will be complete on the economic package and social spending bill by Christmas.  

The “Build Back Better Framework offers urgently needed assistance to families and schools across America,” said Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman.

Key Build Back Better support for students & families

Currently, the $1.9 trillion Build Back Better bill includes these provisions that impact education, children, and families:

  • Four weeks of paid family and medical leave; universal, free pre-school for all 3- and 4-year-old children, which currently costs about $8,600 per child per year in the U.S.
  • An extension of the American Rescue Plan’s expanded Child Tax Credit, which provides up to $300 per month for a child under 6 years old and up to $250 a month per child 6- to 17-years old.
  • A large investment in childcare that would provide significant savings for families and expand access to childcare.
  • Funding to make education after high school more affordable by increasing the maximum Pell Grant by $550, allowing DREAMers to access that financial aid source, investing in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority Serving Institutions to provide financial aid to low-income students, modernize research infrastructure, increase capacity, and resources to help students complete their degree, certification, or credential.

This plan would “support teachers, parents, and families as we all work together to help our students succeed,” and it would also reduce the economic strain many families and schools are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Supt. Hoffman said.

“The pressure on teachers and working families has only increased. The lingering health and economic effects of the pandemic have strained resources in our schools and homes alike,” Supt. Hoffman said.

“The Build Back Better legislation could have some profound impacts for educators and the families they serve,” said Geoff Esposito with Creosote Partners.

“This bill does a lot of things, but when I think about how it impacts our school communities the provisions that are most impactful include universal pre-school for all 3- and 4-year-old children, affordable quality childcare, paid family medical leave, and the expanded child tax credit and earned income tax credit for working families,” Esposito said.

“If this passes, we see six million more children with access to quality preschool. It means lower- and middle-income families pay no more than seven percent of their income in childcare,” Esposito said.

The plan also includes up to four weeks of paid medical and family leave, which is particularly important for educators and their students, Supt. Hoffman said.  

“Whether it’s used for parental leave, medical recovery, or to care for a loved one – Arizona teachers deserve to know they can use that time while keeping their job. But right now, our schools are facing severe teacher shortages without paid leave,” Supt. Hoffman said.

What’s ahead in the Senate?

Right now, the Build Back Better bill faces resistance in the Senate from Republicans and Democratic Senators Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona, over its size and cost.

Some legislators have also expressed concerns about specific provisions and funding sources. Recently and in the past, Sen. Manchin has repeatedly opposed paid medical and family leave.

“As everyone knows, now that we’ve passed the bipartisan infrastructure plan, which I’m incredibly proud of,” said Sen. Sinema in an interview last week with Sedona Red Rock News.“We’ll now turn our attention to continuing to negotiate and complete the Build Back Better Act, which is like the second part of Biden’s agenda.”

“I anticipate it will continue to move forward,” Sen. Sinema said to Sedona Red Rock News. “But we do have a number of weeks ahead of us of kind of working out the rough edges of that legislation as we move forward.”

How to pay for it

The Build Back Better bill seeks to pay for its provisions by:

  • Taxing corporations’ profits by a minimum of 15% in the U.S. and an agreement with 136 countries on a 15% global minimum tax on U.S. corporations’ foreign profits.
  • A 1% surcharge on corporate stock buybacks.
  • A 5% surtax on income above $10 million and an additional 3% on income above $25 million.
  • Closing loopholes that let some wealthy taxpayers avoid paying the 3.8% Medicare tax on their earnings.
  • Investing in enforcing existing tax laws so those with income over $400,000 a year pay their fair share of what they owe.

“These sources of revenue would open the door to long-term education investments that will truly build an ecosystem of support for every student,” Supt. Hoffman said.