Justin Murphy, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
A bill setting the goal of halving child poverty in New York within a decade has passed the Legislature and now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.
The Child Poverty Reduction Act would create a statewide Child Poverty Reduction Advisory Council that would issue recommendations and evaluations on the state’s progress toward the ambitious goal. It also would share data around child poverty.
“We can end child poverty (if) we put a strategy together, put goals in place and have benchmarks toward those goals,” Assemblyman Harry Bronson, the lead sponsor in the Assembly, said at a press conference Thursday.
Part of the strategy is a push for a higher minimum wage, expanding child tax credits and increasing access to child care, subsidized housing and job training.
The bill zipped through Albany in a single session — it was introduced in October — thanks to advocacy from a large coalition of non-profit organizations, including The Children’s Agenda in Rochester.
Larry Marx, CEO of The Children’s Agenda, said the already distressing level of child poverty in Rochester and across New York has only worsened since the pandemic began.
More than half of the children in Rochester live below the poverty line, which is $26,200 for a family of four. There are about 1 million children in poverty across New York.
Cuomo still needs to sign the legislation for it to become law; Bronson said he believes there is a “good likelihood” of that happening.
The law would make New York the first state in the U.S. to set a firm figure for its child poverty reduction goal, Bronson said.
The federal government already has provided a major boost to the 50% target. The Child Tax Credit included in President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan would provide up to $3,600 per child. Analysts have estimated that program, and the plan in general, could cut child poverty by more than half on its own.