The U.S. Senate is currently reviewing the Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands Equitable Rebuild Act, which, among others, seeks to provide federal funding for Earned Income Tax Credit payouts on both U.S. territories.
Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan), who chairs the Committee on Ways and Means in the CNMI House of Representatives, expressed disappointment Friday that nobody in Washington, D.C. is fighting to ensure that the CNMI is included in this bill that would fully fund the EITC for two other jurisdictions.
“The EITC is a federally mandated income supplement for qualified wage earners, especially those with children and is intended for families in need,” said Demapan. “It’s a real shame to know that there is an active legislation before the U.S. Senate which does not include the CNMI and Guam.”
The EITC is already available to Americans living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The states are reimbursed by the federal government for EITC payments they make. On the contrary, territories that pay out EITC are not reimbursed. Territories are left to faced such a huge unfunded mandate that states have absolutely nothing to worry about.
As a member of the CNMI 902 team in 2016, Demapan joined Gov. Ralph DLG Torres in including the issue of the EITC in the 902 consultations as a mechanism to incentivize greater local workforce participation to meet the end of the transition period in 2019.
“We are thankful that our recommendations were made part of the final report to Congress. Even then, we knew that a statutory change in the U.S. Congress is needed in order to provide the CNMI with funding to implement the credit,” said Demapan. “It’s only fair and equitable that this bill before the Senate, introduced by Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders, be amended to include the CNMI and the territories left behind yet again.”
Demapan remains steadfast on his position that families in the CNMI deserve to receive EITC payments.
“I supported the EITC program two years ago because I know it can lift up many of our working families by providing them with the opportunities to succeed in our growing economy. However, what some are suggesting would lead to the largest unfunded mandate for our government at a time when we have already brought down our government debt by 42.5 percent over the last several years, providing more financial security for our children’s future. That’s why I cannot understand how our advocates in Washington, D.C. can afford to fall asleep at the wheel when Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are on the verge of getting full federal support to fund EITC in their jurisdictions, while the Marianas is left out once again even when the opportunity to correct this injustice was available in Congress. That’s an injustice to working families here in the CNMI,” added Demapan. (PR)