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American Jobs Plan, Medical Debt, School Funding
A rundown of key news items
President Biden recently announced his American Jobs Plan, a sweeping $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs package that would reshape the American economy by making the biggest investment in our nation’s systems in decades. In response, Consumer Federation of America wrote to key Administration officials stressing that transforming our nation’s energy sector is currently one of the most important aspects of future economic policy. “We believe that the American Jobs Plan will create jobs, lead to a more resilient electricity grid, and modernize power generation through cleaner and lower cost energy alternatives,” said Jack Gillis, CFA’s Executive Director.
The vicious circle linking health and poverty remains a challenge in Maryland. The rising cost of insurance coupled with an unexpected medical emergency can lead to medical debt — one of the biggest drivers of consumer debt today. Our Preying on Patients report found that Maryland hospitals, which are paid to provide free healthcare to low-income families, instead sued 145,746 low-income and working families to collect medical debts below $5000. As a result of hospitals’ pursuit of profit over patients’ financial well-being, 3278 Marylanders filed for bankruptcy, while another 37,370 had their wages garnished.
A bipartisan commission has said Tennessee is underfunding public schools by $1.7 billion. Meanwhile, the state has a surplus for the current year of over $1.4 billion, and projections are that number will be over $2 billion by the end of the fiscal year. Additionally, state reserve funds are sitting at about $7.5 billion.
Of course, this means that Gov. Bill Lee is planning a big, new investment in a state funding formula that places Tennessee at 46th in the nation in school funding.
Actually, it doesn’t mean that. In fact, Lee recently announced his budget amendment for the 2021–22 fiscal year and it included no appreciable new funding for public schools.