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State of the Union Address 1999

President Clinton's Proposal

21st Century Support for Families

Changes in work and culture during the 20th century have created new challenges that must be addressed in order to strengthen our families. Too many Americans are spending more time at work just to make ends meets and less time at home. The President has unveiled a bold agenda that puts families first by helping struggling parents balance their responsibilities at work and at home, and ensuring that when they have to be at work, their children are safe and well-cared for.

Child Care

President Clinton's child care proposal includes subsidies to help families pay for child care, greater tax relief for working families as well as those who choose to stay at home to care for their young children, and dramatic increases in funding for after-school programs. The President's proposal will:

· Expand the Child Care Block Grant

    President Clinton has proposed to expand the Child Care and Development Block Grant significantly to help working families struggling to meet the costs of child care which will enable the program to serve an additional 1.15 million children by FY 2004. The proposal will also improve the quality and safety of child care, and provide funding for early learning opportunities so that children reach school ready to learn.

· Greater Tax Relief for Child Care for Three Million Working Families

    The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit provides tax relief to taxpayers who pay for the care of a child under 13 or a disabled dependent or spouse in order to work. The President is proposing to increase the credit for families earning under $60,000, providing an additional average tax cut of $354 for these families and eliminating income tax liability for almost all families of four with incomes below $35,000 who are saddled with high child care costs.

· New Child Care Tax Incentives for Businesses

    The President's plan includes a new tax credit for businesses that provide child care services for their employees by building or expanding child care facilities, operating existing facilities, training child care workers, or providing child care resources and referral services.

· Tax Relief for Parents Who Stay at Home

    Because the President believes that we should support parents in whatever choice they make for the care of their children, he is proposing to provide new tax relief to parents who stay at home with children under age one. The President's budget proposal will benefit 1.7 million families and will provide an average tax credit of $178.

· Expansion of After-School Opportunities for Over One Million Children

    Experts agree that school-age children who are unsupervised during the hours after school are far more likely to use alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, commit crimes, receive poor grades, and drop out of school than those who are involved in supervised, constructive activities. That is why President Clinton is committed to tripling funding for the 21st Century Learning Center Program, which supports the creation and expansion of after-school and summer school programs throughout the country. The program will target funds toward school districts that have programs in place to end social promotion.

Working Families

· FMLA Expansion

    The President has proposed again to extend the benefits of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) -- the first piece of legislation that the President signed into law -- to ten million more American workers. Today, workers are eligible for up to 12 weeks of FMLA-protected leave to care for a newborn or adopted child, to attend to their own serious health needs, or to care for a seriously ill parent, child or spouse -- if they work at a business with 50 or more employees. By covering workers in businesses with 25 or more workers, 10 million more American workers will be covered by the FMLA. The President is also calling for expanding the law to allow FMLA-eligible workers to take up to 24 hours of additional leave each year to meet specified family obligations, including routine doctors appointments and parent-teacher conferences.

· Prohibiting Discrimination Against Parents

    The President proposed new federal legislation to protect parents from discrimination in the workplace. The President is announcing legislation which would protect workers from unfair assumptions about their commitment to their job that can affect hiring, advancement and other employment decisions. While this law would clearly not prohibit employers from making hiring and promotion decisions on the basis of job performance, it would ensure that workers are not unfairly discriminated against simply because they are parents.

· Minimum Wage Increase

    Despite the strongest economy in a generation, there are still millions of workers trying to raise a family and struggling to make ends meet. That is why President Clinton has called on Congress to pass an increase in the minimum wage. The President's proposal would increase the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 over two years -- through a 50-cent increase on September 1, 1999 and a 50-cent increase on September 1, 2000. For someone who works full-time, this minimum wage increase will mean an additional $2,000 per year. Approximately 12 million hourly paid workers would directly benefit from this pay raise.


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