Opinion: Newsom’s bold proposal — a cost-of-living refund to make California affordable

Three-quarters of workers report living paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time. Half of households are unable to cover an emergency $500 expense. Housing costs in California just keep accelerating, hitting an all-time high in 2018. The basic building blocks of middle-class life — child care, health care, a college education — have become like luxury goods: high-priced and available to very few.

A cost-of-living refund to put money back in the pockets of low-income Californians who need it most is one solution. Delivered as a tax refund based on earnings, the Earned Income Tax Credit is one of the most powerful mechanisms to address affordability and inequality, while giving people the ability to put resources toward their most pressing needs. Over the past three years, California took the important first steps of establishing and then expanding a state credit to complement the federal credit, and is on track to refund $400 million to about 2 million households for the 2018 tax year.

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