White House on Biden Families Plan: ‘An Investment in Maryland’s Children’

President Joe Biden. Whitehouse.gov photo.

As the Biden administration peddles its American Families Plan — which it describes as “a once-in-a-generation investment in the foundations of middle-class prosperity” — the White House on Thursday released a fact sheet touting the proposal’s potential benefits to Maryland.

The plan, a combination of government spending and tax credits totaling $1.8 trillion over a decade, includes investments for education, health care and child care.

President Biden’s proposal, which he announced during his first address to Congress last week, includes establishing free community college, universal preschool and paid family leave, among other priorities. It also calls for a four-year extension of a new $3,000 child tax credit.

“It will help families cover the basic expenses that so many struggle with now, lower health insurance premiums, and continue…historic reductions in child poverty,” the White House said in a statement Thursday. “It will yield significant economic returns — boosting productivity and economic growth, supporting a larger, more productive, and healthier workforce on a sustained basis, and generating savings to states and the federal government.”

The plan has won widespread praise from Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation.

“This is exactly the type of commitment — and vision — our country needs,” Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) said in a statement.

If enacted, in Maryland the plan would help defray the expense of a two-year associate degree, which costs about $4,800 a year in the state. Just 58% of students in Maryland are able to complete a postsecondary degree of any kind within six years of enrolling, the Biden administration said, and high costs are a contributing factor. The Biden plan would also also increase the maximum Pell Grant awards by approximately $1,400 to support the 102,000 students in Maryland who rely on Pell to help pay for higher education.

The White House said the American Families Plan would provide access to free pre-school to all 3- and 4-year-olds in Maryland; currently, 50,400, or 34%, of the 148,000 3- and 4-year-olds in Maryland are enrolled in publicly-funded pre-school. The proposal would also ensure that all employees in funded pre-school programs are paid a $15 hourly minimum wage and provided compensation and benefits comparable to kindergarten educators with similar qualifications.

Biden’s plan would also make investments to address teacher shortages; Maryland has seen an 11% decline in “new teacher supply” in recent years, the administration said. While students of color make up 62% of the public school population in Maryland, 75% of teachers in the state are white, and the proposal would seek to boost opportunities for non-white educators.

The American Families Plan also seeks to address child care shortages; the White House estimates that the average annual cost of a child care center for a toddler in Maryland is $12,300, meaning a two-parent household would on average need to spend 10% of their income to afford care for one child every year. The Biden proposal would enable low and middle-income families to pay no more than 7% of their income on child care and would guarantee child care workers a minimum wage of $15 an hour. In Maryland, the average pay for child care workers is currently $11.60 an hour.

The Biden administration reports that 12% of children in Maryland live in food insecure households and 34% are obese. The American Families Plan would attempt to ensure that the nutritional needs of Maryland’s children are met by expanding access to free school meals to an additional 67,000 students and providing 431,000 students with resources to purchase food over the summer.

The Biden administration also seeks to expand health care coverage throughout the country, which would provide coverage to an estimated 34,000 uninsured Marylanders and provide savings on premiums to 53,300 state residents.

The administration also proposes to extend tax cuts and tax credits to millions of middle- and lower-income families in the U.S., including to the families of 147,000 Maryland children who are classified as poor. And the Biden plan also calls for the creation of paid family medical and sick leave.

Not having such a policy, said Cardin, who is chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, “has placed our country in striking contrast with the rest of the developed world.”

To pay for the plan, Biden has proposed reinvesting in the IRS to help the agency run more efficiently, close loopholes and prosecute tax cheaters. And he aims to tax the wealthiest Americans more.

“The president’s plans will build more prosperity and opportunity for all Americans — and are paid for through common-sense measures,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

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Josh Kurtz
Founding Editor Josh Kurtz is a veteran chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He was an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, for eight years, and for eight years was the editor of E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill. For 6 1/2 years Kurtz wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz regularly gives speeches and appears on TV and radio shows to discuss Maryland politics.