Help for ALICE households in New Jersey’s budget
With the help of passionate local advocates, United Way of Northern New Jersey gave ALICE households a voice in the 2021 state budget, which was finalized September 29 with Governor Phil Murphy’s signature.
To be exact, a coalition of United Way advocates gave ALICE a total of 562 voices in the process. That’s the number of letters that were sent to the state’s elected officials in support of three budget priorities for ALICE families.
And all three items made the cut for inclusion in the state’s final budget.
“It is gratifying that the needs of ALICE essential workers were kept in mind by our state’s elected officials,” said United Way of Northern New Jersey CEO Kiran Handa Gaudioso. “I’m so proud that our volunteers and allies joined us to send Governor Murphy and representatives in the state Senate and Assembly more than 500 letters in support of ALICE workers.”
At a time when ALICE families are hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the following three line items will help these workers save for an emergency, access affordable health care and give their children a quality, reliable early education:
$250,000 for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) so that the state’s nonprofits, including United Way, can save ALICE households the average $270 it costs to prepare and file their tax returns and pump $36.5 million in federal tax refunds back into our state economy. These refunds are spent locally on rent, food, health care and other basics.
$10 million for preschool expansion, a proven investment that saves our communities in reduced crime, social services, and special education costs over the long term.
$150 million for access to health care for low-income individuals and families, which has the potential to save lives.
“Thank you to everyone who joined this effort and lifted up your voices for ALICE,” Gaudioso said. “We have more work ahead to bring racial and economic equity to ALICE families and those in poverty, but this is a positive step forward by our elected officials.”