Saving State U: a book party and benefit for PHENOM

Saving State U is the just-released book by Nancy Folbre, author and UMass Amherst economics professor.  On Wednesday, April 14, 2010 a book party and benefit will be held at Gordon Hall.  There will be a presentation and discussion from 4:00-5:00 p.m. and a reception follows from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.  The event benefits the Public Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM) and is sponsored by PERI and the Department of Economics.

About PHENOM:  The Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts is the leading organization advocating for affordable, well-funded public higher education in Massachusetts.  PHENOM unites students, faculty, alumni, staff, parents and community organizations to do grassroots organizing, policy analysis, and legislative advocacy.

PHENOM’s For a Great State of Mind:  Invest in Public Educationcampaign seeks to dramatically increase state investment in public higher education.  The goal is to reduce the cost of attending public college to the national average, and increase state support for public colleges and universities up to the national average.  Currently, Massachusetts ranks 46th among the 50 states in its investment in public higher education.  To learn more, click here.

Folbre UMass Economics

Too much to qualify, too little to get by: Folbre blogs about the “Resentment Zone”

Nancy Folbre, UMass Amherst Economics Professor

Nancy Folbre, UMass economics professor and contributor the NY Times Blog, Economix, describes what she calls the “resentment zone” in a recent Economix entry.  Low-income workers who get married, work more hours or pick up a second job, may lose means-tested benefits that they once qualified for.  According to Folbre, this has the same effect on households as paying more taxes.  In fact, when you account for both taxes paid and benefits lost, the marginal tax rate for low-income households often exceeds 35 percent.  This is the same rate applied to taxable income over $372,950 of married couples filing jointly for 2009.

March 22, 2010
The Resentment Zone:  Losing Means-Tested Benefits

The rate at which benefits are phased out depends on which benefits people are taking advantage of. Participation rates for many programs, like food stamps, fall far short of 100 percent of those eligible.

Most government surveys don’t collect data on program participation. One that does, the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) is widely considered inaccurate.

But an innovative study of Wisconsin households that merges data from tax returns and state administrative data shows that some low-income families faced a combined state and federal marginal tax rate of 44 percent in 2000. Some fell off a cliff when they earned just enough income to disqualify them from the state’s public health insurance program.