Blue Ribbon Commission Hearing on Tax Reform

Last Tuesday I attended one of many of the town hall meetings hosted by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform. It is hard to convey what a fair tax policy means in 3 minutes but my comments were as follows:

Honorable members of the Commission,
My name is Jordan Wildermuth and I am the executive director of the National Association of Social Workers-Kentucky Chapter. NASW supports an economic policy that invests in “human capital” and recognizes that our well-being derives not only from an economic balance sheet, but also from the well-being of its members. More than 20% of tax filers throughout Kentucky are struggling to make ends meet and using the Federal EITC to work their way out of poverty. These are families with one or both parents employed but not earning enough money to afford some of life’s most basic necessities.
Social workers have experienced this dramatic shift in client populations. There are still a great number of unemployed individuals but the more alarming statistic is the thousands of Kentuckians who are underemployed. One example is a single mother who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis last year. She qualified for the Federal Medical Leave Act, but did not receive any compensation for those lost days. Her drop in income qualified her for the EITC which allowed her to be able to pay bills.
An EITC is good for Kentucky because it pumps money back into the local economy. Families are more likely to spend their EITC return on food, gas, and bills. An EITC also enables families to save money as well. Twenty-four other states have enacted an EITC and federal EITC has been one of the best examples of bi-partisanship to date.
It is also important to move Kentucky to a more graduated tax rate structure so that everyone pays their fair share. The current rate structure has not been changed since enacted in the 1930’s resulting in a flat tax. There should be a new bracket created for the highest wage earners above 6%. Thirteen states have top rates of 7% or higher.

What I gathered from a large portion of the meeting were numerous entities who were in favor of a more fair tax system until it fell on them and from which point they were looking to be exempt. I am proud as a social worker to know that we are looking out for the voiceless and are not thinking about ourselves within a vacuum. A fair tax system intersects with all institutions and those institutions must come to understand systems theory and how we can not affect change to a system without taking a look at how we are impacting the system. Businesses should work with non-profits to understand social responsibility and how we can all work together for social justice.

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Affordable Care Act Upheld

Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled to uphold the Affordable Care Act. While the ruling was made under the pretense of Congress’ ability to tax we must all look past the legal jargon and celebrate the increased access to affordable health care. There is still a lot of work to do with local providers and hospital systems, but the first step in reform has been achieved.

One provision that is still in question is that states will not be penalized by the Federal government for not expanding Medicaid up to 133% of the poverty line by 2014. The truth about this provision is that there is 100% Federal funding through 2017 for this expansion of Medicaid. With the political climate, decreased state budget, and the move to managed care, it is very important that money is not left on the table.

Governor Beshear has announced he will issue an executive order to establish health insurance exchanges. The important aspect to educate others on is the expansion of Medicaid previously mentioned. This can be done by executive order, but is important to educate legislators so there is not a push to limit the executive branch’s power to do so.

Enough of the politics, this a great thing for Kentuckians as well as the United States!

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Tax Reform

During the 2012 legislative session, Governor Beshear appointed a Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform to solicit input and provide recommendations for tax reform. The Commission has been traveling throughout the Commonwealth, holding town hall meetings, to provide an open forum for Kentuckians to raise concerns and provide input into the process. NASW-Kentucky will be attending the July 10 meeting in Louisville.

NASW-Kentucky believes that Kentucky should prioritize funding to assure that safety net services are available for individuals and that we should focus any review of the current tax structure on revenue generating streams that are fair and equal to all Kentuckians.

NASW-Kentucky supports the following four points:

1. Restoring the estate tax.

2. Enacting a state Earned Income Tax Credit.

3. Replace deductions and old tax rates with a stair-stepped rate structure that increases modestly with income.

4. Enacting an internet sales tax.

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Welcome to the NASW Ky. Chapter Blog. Social Workers can interact with each other in the discussion section from all over the commonwealth. The student section is to allow all social students to interact with each other also. Social workers in the field are encouraged to interact with students also, by giving advice or make connections. We encourage everyone to post links of social work related items.

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