Ahead of President Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, the White House unveiled its American Families Plan, a $1.8 trillion proposal to provide universal pre-K, build a national paid family and medical leave program, and expand free meals in school districts.
The administration says the extensive legislation will “be fully paid for over 15 years and will reduce deficits over the long term” when combined with its previous American Jobs Plan. Axios reports that to pay for these plans, Biden is relying on five new sources of revenue, including raising the top marginal tax rate to 39.6 percent for the highest earners, increasing capital gains taxes, raising the corporate tax rate, and providing the IRS with more resources to enforce tax policy.
Here are some of the provisions of the American Families Plan.
$200 billion for universal pre-K
The money would go toward providing free pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-olds. Under this measure, pre-K program employees will earn at least $15 per hour and “those with comparable qualifications will receive compensation commensurate with that of kindergarten teachers.”
$225 billion for child care
Biden is calling for the expansion of affordable and accessible child care with a variety of options, from Head Start programs to child-care centers. The funding would provide a $15 minimum wage for early childhood staff and additional compensation based on qualifications.
$109 billion for two years of free community college for every American, including DREAMers
Biden is also requesting $80 billion for additional federal Pell Grants. This would increase the maximum award to a student by around $1,400. The measure would allow DREAMers to access Pell Grants. The plan also calls for a $62 billion investment into strategies to increase retention and completion rates at colleges and universities, particularly community colleges.
$46 billion investment in HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs
This funding “provides two years of subsidized tuition for students from families earning less than $125,000” who are enrolled in a four-year historically Black college or university (HBCU), a tribal college or university (TCU), or a minority-serving institution (MSI). Biden is also calling for a $5 billion expansion of institution aid grants to these colleges and an additional $2 billion put towards graduate students in health-care fields.
$9 billion for teachers
The Biden administration says this amount is needed to “train, equip, and diversify American teachers in order to ensure that our high school graduates are ready for success.” It puts $2.8 billion toward Grow Your Own educator programs and teacher residencies in order to promote diverse candidates for teaching positions. Of this, $400 million will be set aside for teacher preparation at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs, and $900 million will be spent on special-education teacher development. The president is asking Congress to put $1.6 billion toward helping current teachers get their needed certifications and to doubling scholarships for future teachers from $4,000 to $8,000 per year.
An extension of the Affordable Care Act tax credits and Child Tax Credit increases
The president is requesting $200 billion to make ACA premium tax credits permanent. In addition, he wants to extend the Child Tax Credit from the American Rescue Plan through 2025 and make it permanently refundable. Payments would be regularly delivered rather than requiring families to wait for their tax refund. The administration is also calling on Congress to make the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit Expansion from the American Rescue Plan permanent.
A ten-year plan to create a paid family and medical leave program
The program will allow Americans to “take time to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one, deal with a loved one’s military deployment, find safety from sexual assault, stalking, or domestic violence, heal from their own serious illness, or take time to deal with the death of a loved one.” Starting in the first year of the program, workers will get three days of bereavement leave per year. By the tenth year, the initiative will guarantee 12 weeks of paid leave. Additionally, it will “provide workers up to $4,000 a month, with a minimum of two-thirds of average weekly wages replaced, rising to 80 percent for the lowest wage workers.” Biden is also advocating for Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would require employers to allow their workers to accrue sick time to use toward caring for their own health or a family member’s health.
$45 billion for nutrition
Around $25 billion would go toward making the Summer-EBT program, which provided additional food benefits during the pandemic, permanent and expanding it to all eligible children. The administration is requesting $17 billion to expand free meals in schools by raising reimbursement percentage. It would automatically enroll students based on Medicaid and SSI data by expanding direct certification. The government would also spend $1 billion to provide reimbursement incentives to schools that expand healthy food choices. The measure also calls for allowing the formerly incarcerated to be eligible for SNAP benefits.