After coming to Seattle as a refugee from Vietnam as a teenager, I was able to experience success in life because of support and investments from my community. I want to ensure others have those same opportunities for support now – during these especially difficult times and into the future.
That is why I am co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill that calls for a Recovery Rebate in Washington state. The Recovery Rebate takes the form of an updated Working Families Tax Credit, which provides annual state cash stimulus to families who are struggling to afford the basics.
It would give an annual base credit of $500 to eligible people with low incomes, with additional funds for households with children. The rebate would also go to taxpayers who file taxes using an Individual Tax Identification Number – including undocumented people, students, and some survivors of domestic violence who are unjustly excluded from federal tax credits and stimulus efforts.
Ensuring people have the cash they need to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads is a cause that’s close to my heart. Immigrants, refugees, and people of color support our communities as small business owners, but they don’t get PPP support.
And during the pandemic, they have also been the essential workers who have put their lives at risk so the rest of us can stay home and stay safe. Essential working people, many of whom are Asian and Pacific Islander, are working hard for low wages to keep the economy going. They deserve this kind of cash support.
The Recovery Rebate would go to approximately 500,000 Washington households. The same people who qualify for the successful federal anti-poverty program, the Earned Income Tax Credit–as well as Individual Taxpayer Identification Number filers who are excluded from the EITC — would receive the rebate.
The rebate would provide a much-needed lifeline to so many people in the Asian and Pacific Islander community whose employers have laid them off, whose small businesses are struggling, and who otherwise are having to make hard choices like deciding between paying for groceries or getting their medications.
Further, the Recovery Rebate is designed to advance racial and economic justice, speed up the state’s economic recovery, and promote community health. It would provide a larger share of benefits to Black, Indigenous, and people of color who have been most harmed by longstanding barriers to wealth and opportunity due to racist policies as well as the pandemic’s economic crisis.
The fact is, small businesses do better when people have money to spend in their communities, and people are healthier when they are not worried about how to make ends meet.
The momentum is picking up steam on this cash stimulus proposal. Our Recovery Rebate/Working Families Tax Credit bill (House Bill 1297) has widespread bipartisan support from 45 other House members, including 39 Democrats and six Republicans.
My colleague in the Senate, Sen. Joe Nguyen, D-34, has also introduced the companion bill (Senate Bill 5387).
And there is a broad coalition of more than 35 organizations that are working hard to get this bill passed. They are groups that advocate for anti-poverty, workers’ rights, racial equity and social justice, small business advancement, health care access, rural and urban economic and community development, and tax reform.
Endorsing organizations include OneAmerica, Asian Pacific Islander Coalition, the Washington State Budget & Policy Center, and Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS).
Joseph Shoji Lachman, a policy analyst at ACRS, recently shared: “We are proud to support the Recovery Rebate as a top legislative priority this year for the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition of Washington. HB 1297 will provide low-barrier and meaningful assistance to all for their basic needs, regardless of immigration status, in alignment with ACRS’ founding principle of ensuring resources reach our most vulnerable immigrant and refugee communities.”
It’s time to get this important policy to the finish line. We must get cash back into the hands of Washingtonians who need it most.
Rep. My-Linh Thai (D-Bellevue) is the vice chair of the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee.