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Udall's SONG Legislation Focused on Child Well Being

PHOTO: Improving the well being of children in New Mexico and across the nation is the goal of legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall. Photo courtesy of Sen. Udall
PHOTO: Improving the well being of children in New Mexico and across the nation is the goal of legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall. Photo courtesy of Sen. Udall
February 18, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. - U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is sponsoring legislation he maintains will help the state overcome statistics such as having America's highest child poverty rate.

Udall said his bill - called Saving Our Next Generation, or SONG - aims to improve the health and education of children by increasing access to federal education and anti-poverty programs. Udall spokeswoman Jennifer Talhelm said the goal is to spark a national conversation on child well being.

"He's calling for a 2016 Surgeon General report on improving the health of children, a conference on children at the White House level, and some other conversations that need to be had about how we can look at child well being and updating these programs," she said.

The bill also calls for full implementation of the Family and Medical Leave Act, establishing a minimum wage above the poverty level, and permanent extension and modifications to the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit.

Talhelm said the legislation does not seek any new funding, but does seek to do much more with existing programs.

"It's not just a funding increase issue," she said. "In a lot of cases, it's making sure the resources are getting to kids. How do you do that? How do you eliminate the bureaucracy in some cases?"

Talhelm said Udall also is calling for the renewal and expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which provides health coverage for low-income children.

Information on Udall's bill is online at scribd.com.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM