Letter: This tax credit would be a first step for reducing intergenerational poverty in Utah

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gov. Gary Herbert laughs after House speaker Greg Hughes, at left, make a snarky comment about the governor vetoing fewer bills if he gives away enough pens following his signing of H.B. 472 - Medicaid Expansion Revisions, at the Utah Capitol on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. The bill would expand Medicaid healthcare coverage to cover an additional 60,000 Utahns below the poverty line — pending approval from the federal government.

The recent commentary "Intergenerational poverty creates a permanent underclass" in Sunday’s Tribune is spot-on in its assessment of state earned income tax credit (EITC) being a data-backed effective public policy that contributes to improved educational outcomes for disadvantaged children.

As a matter of fact, state EITC programs have been shown to have a number of positive impacts on the families who qualify. EITC reduces dependence on other social programs, incentivizes work, and improves maternal and infant health outcomes for those who receive it.

Attempts to approve a state EITC in Utah have been made for years. During the 2018 legislative session, the Utah Intergenerational Poverty Work and Self Sufficiency Tax Credit passed the House and the Senate. Unfortunately, it did not get prioritized for funding.

If the state wants to encourage work and reduce intergenerational poverty, EITC is a perfect first step. Constituents must call on their state legislators to prioritize funding for a state EITC to strengthen working families in Utah as a moral imperative.

Carrie Butler, Action Utah policy director, Salt Lake City