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Idaho Families Struggle to Save; Policy Brief Offers Solutions

A new policy brief suggests says to help lower-income families establish savings without risking their access to public assistance. (Dodgerton skillhause/morguefile)
A new policy brief suggests says to help lower-income families establish savings without risking their access to public assistance. (Dodgerton skillhause/morguefile)
January 21, 2016

BOISE, Idaho – The government can make it easier for families to sock away money for emergencies, college or retirement by implementing a few changes, according to a new policy brief out this week.

The brief from the Annie E. Casey Foundation is called "Investing in Tomorrow: Helping Families Build Savings and Assets."

James Munkres, communications manager for Idaho Voices for Children and Idaho Kids Count, says the more a family can save, the brighter their children’s future will be.

"We feel it's very important for kids to have the confidence that they need to dream big,” he states. “And that comes from stability and security."

The brief suggests legislators create universal savings accounts for each child at birth, with about $1,000 to get families started on the path to saving.

According to the census, 15.5 percent of Idahoans live at or below the federal poverty line.

The analysis also points out that in some states programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families deny benefits to people who have more than a few thousand dollars saved up.

Munkres says that becomes a disincentive to save.

"For instance in Idaho, it's $5,000 in savings and assets, which can be a second car, maybe a little money in the bank to save up for first and last month's rent, or a security deposit on a new apartment,” he explains. “That can disqualify them."

The policy brief says the federal government should raise the asset limit to just over $12,000, which is about three month's wages for a low-income family of four.

The brief also pushes for increased access to the starter plans called MyRA.




Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - ID