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Progress on Poverty at Risk with Congressional Spending Bill

The spending bill working its way through Congress could erase modest gains in the fight against poverty, according to a new analysis. Credit: Bodnarchuk/iStockphoto.
The spending bill working its way through Congress could erase modest gains in the fight against poverty, according to a new analysis. Credit: Bodnarchuk/iStockphoto.
October 12, 2015

DENVER – Poverty in Colorado dropped last year by a single percentage point, but nearly one in six children in the state still lives below the poverty line, according to a new analysis of U.S. census data by the equal pay women's advocacy group 9 to 5 Colorado.

Bridget Kaminetsky, the group's lead economic security organizer, says even modest gains are at risk with the current congressional spending bill for 2016 that includes additional cuts to programs with a proven track record for reducing poverty.

"Members of Congress need to realize that they have a choice to make,” she stresses. “They can either continue to cut and put more people into poverty, or they can stop these cuts so our nation can grow and eliminate poverty."

Kaminetsky says the formula for cutting poverty rates isn't a secret. She points to the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, which lifted almost 148,000 Coloradans, including 82,000 children, out of poverty each year from 2011 to 2013.

She notes that last year, housing subsidies raised nearly 2.8 million Americans out of poverty, with food stamps helping 4.7 million.

Kaminetsky says more than 130 human-needs programs have seen funding cuts since 2010. But even without additional cuts proposed by Congress for next year, she says the trajectory for eliminating poverty in the U.S. is still too slow.

"If we continue at this current rate of declining poverty, it's still going to take more than 25 years to cut poverty in half across the Unites States," she points out.

Kaminetsky says it would take even longer – nearly 35 years – to bring child poverty down by half.

The study also found poverty continues to disproportionately affect people of color.

Kaminetsky says nearly 21 percent of African Americans and 20 percent of Latinos in Colorado are poor, compared with just over eight percent of whites.


Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO