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On World AIDS Day, New Mexico activists say more money is needed for prevention; ND farmers still navigate corporate land-ownership policy maze; Unpaid caregivers in ME receive limited financial grants.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken urges Israel to protect civilians amid Gaza truce talks, New York Rep. George Santos defends himself as his expected expulsion looms and CDC director warns about respiratory illness as flu season begins.

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Congress has iced the Farm Bill, but farmer advocates argue some portions are urgent, the Hoosier State is reaping big rewards from wind and solar, and opponents react to a road through Alaska's Brooks Range, long a dream destination for hunters and anglers.

End of Child Tax Credit Payments a Worry for WV Families

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Wednesday, December 15, 2021   

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The final round of the federal government's Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments ends today, unless Congress votes to extend them before the year is up.

Advocates for West Virginia families say the extra money has helped them make ends meet, and the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities said getting the credits monthly has so far benefited roughly nine in 10 children across the nation.

Holly Bradley, a farmer in Pocahontas County, said the extra money she has received this year through the CTC has helped keep her family afloat, and losing it would be a setback.

"I feel like that's going to leave a lot of folks having to choose between what bills they pay," Bradley asserted. "And what food they're able to put on the table, and if they can make rent or not."

The Build Back Better Act would expand the maximum credit to $3,600 for children under age six, and $3,000 dollars for kids ages 6-17, through next year.

Critics, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., say the increased spending would add more than a trillion dollars to the national debt over the next decade. The IRS said Congress will have to greenlight the social spending package by the end of the month, in order to ensure the next round of monthly payments is made, Jan. 15.

Jessica Ice, executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, pointed out several provisions in the Build Back Better Act are aimed at helping families reduce essential expenses, especially amid rising inflation.

"For example, things like lowering the premiums for families buying health insurance through the healthcare.gov marketplace; the prescription drug price negotiation for Medicare that would lower costs for Medicare enrollees," Ice outlined.

Bradley pointed out many West Virginia families are still trying to bounce back from income loss during the pandemic. And with the holidays approaching, she believes not being able to count on Child Tax Credit payments will only increase the stress.

"That uncertainty and that instability, our children are feeling that, like, tenfold," Bradley explained. "They can tell when we are unstable, or we are uncertain about our life situation."

A recent survey found 86% of West Virginia parents reported the monthly payments have made a "huge difference" for their families, and 88% said the credits made them less anxious about their finances. Less than 4% of respondents felt the payments do not make much of a difference.


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