Legislature seeks to stop collection of child support debts – only for some | New

California lawmakers proposed a budget to stop collecting child support from some parents receiving cash assistance, but the proposed solution was to remove those debtors in January. It is far from what you stand for.

The state council budget is a debt to the government (to the family) for parents who are the only source of income from additional security income or additional payments from the state, cash assistance programs for immigrants and SSI / combinations. Reduce or eliminate (no debt owed) SSP and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, or Veterans Management Disability benefits.

This proposal could shatter a narrow subset of the larger population of Californians who owe the government child support. The state has not disclosed to Cal Matters the exact number of people receiving child support benefits, and it is not clear whether the state has that number.

In the context, the Senate Expenditure Committee said removing all those overdue in child support debt would cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars and lay off 98 full-time child support employees. for children. Seeing that the General Fund only saves $ 3.7 million, those who work in the recovery of child support.

The proposal has yet to be negotiated with the Newsom administration.

Request more child support forgiveness

“We are not going to lose money to pay our families, but only money to pay to the state,” Democrat Susan Eggman of Stockton said during a hearing before the budget subcommittee of the Senate last month.

Yet poor advocates have urged the state to go further by allowing old bad debt. And the current proposal leaves the state’s 10% interest rate on child support debt. It is one of the highest such interest rates in the country.

Jhumpa Bhattacharya, vice president of programs and strategy at the Insight Center in Oakland, a nonprofit economic justice group, said, “They have to have the will to do it.”

The theory behind child support is that non-custodial parents support their children with monthly payments. But how does that actually work for parents who are also receiving cash assistance from a federal Temporary Work Help (Temporary Help for Poor Families) program known as CalWORKS in California? It’s not about doing it.

As Cal Matters and The Salinas Californian reported last month, California receives a portion of the child support payable to parents, usually mothers, from parents receiving such cash benefits. In some cases, this part represents more than half of the total payment. On the other hand, if a non-custodial parent is late in paying child support, the debt will accumulate at an interest rate of 10%.

Retained by old debt

Rosalinda Garcia, who lives in Fresno, was one of the non-custodial parents for a short time in 2003. Although she paid thousands of dollars more than her initial balance, she was still not able to. pay off his debt. And the man she hires for child support, her grandfather Joe Garcia Montelongo, died in 2012.

When she asked the DCSS representative where her money was going, they said: State.

“I understand I have to pay my debt, but at this point it’s not the time,” Garcia said. “My grandchildren shouldn’t have to suffer because of my old debt.”

Last year, of the $ 13,000 Garcia was supposed to receive from an unemployment check, less than $ 10,000 was credited to his bank account. She said the rest was paid back to her grandfather for six months in 2003 after caring for the older two, and intercepted by the Child Support Department.

Initially, she was in debt of around $ 4,000, but for years she couldn’t afford to pay it, so she ignored it. However, interest continued to grow. Seventeen years later, even after paying over $ 4,000 last year alone, she still has over $ 2,000 in child support.

She also helped state agencies with funding her first federal stimulus check, her $ 4,000 tax return, and five children who still live at home. He said he intercepted the December stimulus supplement he was supposed to receive.

Misunderstandings about high interest rates

The state itself, a report commissioned by a child support agency, told academics that much of its debt has not been collectable since at least 2003. If the state does not collect money from his parents, the state itself owes the federal government. Some states have started paying 100% of family assistance, and Colorado passed a law requiring states to reimburse the federal government.

Most states are like California, spending $ 100 for a family with one child and $ 200 for a family with two or more children. Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a parliamentary bill that would wipe out 10% of California’s interest, saying the state needed funding.

Mr Batacharya said that high interest rates continue to be misunderstood that people will pay off their debts faster or not at all.

“But in reality, it’s just a debt that people can’t afford to pay,” she said. “This is a debt mostly imposed on low-income black and brown people, who are basically required by the government to pay down the safety net.

“These are poor people who can’t afford to pay in the first place, and now you’re charging 10% more interest, and it’s only getting worse.”

California recovers most of its child support debt

Last week, the governor’s office told Cal Matters “considering the impact on income” of ending child support collections, and Newsom said when he vetoed the action. of Congress “to solve this problem through a budget process.” I asked for it. “

It seems that day has come.

According to federal data, California maintains a very high share of child support payments. This is more than 3.5 times the national average. This has a ripple effect on the parents responsible for their debt: they have a hard time finding and keeping a job, their driver’s licenses can be revoked, and the children and non-custodial parents are more than I will receive less.

“I know it can put (financial) holes in the state,” Eggman said. So why not use it to take care of your family and not worry about interests that have arisen in the past? “

This article is part of California Divide, a collaboration between newsrooms investigating income inequality and financial survival in California.

Legislature seeks to stop collection of child support debts – only for some | New Legislature seeks to stop collection of child support debts – only for some | New

About Bradley J. Bridges

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