What You Need to Know About Public Policy This Week...
Leading Together 2021 explored the themes of trust and equity as crucial elements of transformative philanthropy. Read reflections on the conference experience from six sector experts:
- Knowing Yourself to Better Know Others: Advancing Equity by Adam Ganuza
- The LA Story: Bringing All Voices to the Table by Roy Agloinga
- Storytelling as a Pathway to Equity by Ayushi Vig
- Reinventing Our Battered World through Kindness and Curiosity by Nell Edgington
- Unexpected Partners and Unlikely Allies: Seeking Common Ground by David R. McGhee
- Normal Wasn't Working: Raising the Bar by Donita Volkwijn
On Wednesday, Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL), and Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) introduced the Workforce Development Through Post-Graduation Scholarship Act (S.2191/H.R.4095).
Modeled after the Community Foundation of St. Clair County’s Come Home Award, post-graduation scholarships help individuals with valuable skills pay back their student loans on the condition they live and work in regions that have a high demand for those skills. These scholarships have the potential to be a valuable charitable tool that foundations can use to both help address the student debt crisis and encourage rural economic development. Under current law, post-graduation scholarships are treated as taxable income for recipients, limiting their impact and reach. This bill would change that, ensuring post-graduation scholarships receive the same tax treatment as traditional scholarships. Read more on the Council’s website.
The Council worked with a group of foundations and philanthropy-supporting organizations on this legislation. Take our action alert to urge your members of Congress to cosponsor S.2191 or H.R.4095 and help philanthropy be part of the solution.
A bipartisan group of senators met with President Biden to discuss an infrastructure deal on Thursday. The details suggest a pared-down price tag that totals $579B in new spending over eight years, spread across investments in transportation, water, broadband, environmental remediation, power, water storage, and resilience. In addition, the Biden administration’s proposed tax changes—including increases to individual and corporate taxation—are not included as financing sources for the deal. Instead, it will seek to close the tax gap and expand public-private partnerships.
However, the future is still murky on infrastructure. In a press conference on Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will not move on the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill unless the Senate also passes a budget reconciliation bill that includes Democratic infrastructure priorities. Additionally, progressive House Democrats have said they will not pass an infrastructure bill that does not prioritize climate spending.
On June 17, the Department of Commerce Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a new publicly available digital map that displays key indicators of broadband needs across the country. This map, “Indicators of Broadband Need," is an interactive resource that allows users to explore different datasets from both public and private sources to view where people do not have quality Internet access.
The map also puts poverty and lack of broadband access on the same page. The dataset allows users to see where high-poverty communities are located and how that relates to internet usage patterns, as well as to a lack of computers and related equipment. The map also shows usage patterns in tribal communities, which have historically suffered from a lack of internet access. Through the interactivity of the tool, users can gain a better understanding of where broadband needs are greatest.
The Biden Administration launched a campaign to raise awareness of the American Rescue Plan’s expansion of the Child Tax Credit this week. The American Rescue Plan increased the value of the tax credit from $2,000 per child to $3,600 for children five and younger and $3,000 for children between the ages of six and 17, with the benefit phasing out above $112,500 for individual taxpayers and $150,000 for those filing jointly. This temporary expansion also makes the Child Tax Credit fully refundable, making it available even to families whose income was too low to qualify them for the full credit in previous years. Most eligible parents will receive payments monthly beginning in July rather than annually.
Exclusive from our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.
Colorado Caps Itemized, Charitable Deductions
Colorado Governor Polis signed into law a bill capping itemized deductions, including charitable deductions, at $30,000 for individuals and $60,000 for couples for taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes more than $400,000. Historically, caps on itemized deductions have resulted in lower donations to the work of charitable nonprofits. The bill is paired with another that would raise the insurance premium tax on companies. Together the package is expected to raise $400 million in revenues for the state to be spent on priorities for lower-income families, such as expanding the state child tax credit and Earned Income Tax Credit.
Covering Costs Through Government-Nonprofit Grants & Contracting Reform
At a hearing in Massachusetts last month, nonprofits presented a strong case in support of a bill, H.3241, to clarify that state grants and contracts with nonprofits must comply with the OMB Uniform Guidance by ensuring the reimbursement of indirect costs. Michael Weekes of Providers’ Council stated in testimony, “nonprofits have – for years – not received the full costs under contracts for services that they deliver on behalf of governments.” He explained further, “In fact, the underfunding of indirect costs can undermine nonprofit performance and sustainability, while also damaging the ability of governments to measure program success.” Importantly, the legislation calls for application of the indirect-cost mandate regardless of whether funds were awarded directly by the state or through a pass-through entity to the nonprofit. It defines “indirect costs” to be the same as the OMB Uniform Guidance – cost items such as rent, utilities, technology, administration, professional fees, and other expenses that are not tied to any one program but that are vital to sustaining a healthy organization.
Colorado's Governor recently signed a bill to permit the Department of Public Health and Environment to pay up to 25% of the total value of payments to grantees immediately upon execution or renewal of grant agreements. This could relieve the burdens resulting from slow grant renewals and serve as a model for other departments and in other states.