Children in Oregon will lose an estimated $237 million in child support over the next ten years under a proposal approved by the Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. The full U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote next week on a budget that cuts 40 percent of the federal funds available to states to help collect child support.
“Congress is faced with a proposal that hurts children and hurts one of the most effective and important government programs,” said Chuck Sheketoff, executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP), which studies the impact of public policy choices on opportunities for Oregonians.
Oregon’s child support collection program has proven to be one of the state’s most efficient investments. In 2004, Oregon collected $5.73 in child support for every $1 invested in the program, making Oregon’s program the eighth most cost-effective program in the nation, according to an analysis by the OCPP. Child support collected from an absent parent stabilizes families and helps prevent the need for cash assistance and other public supports.
“The child support collection program is a no-brainer of a public investment,” said Sheketoff. “It is pro-family, pro-child, and a handsome payoff is essentially guaranteed.”
Currently, the federal government pays 66 percent of the costs of child support collection programs in the states. The House Ways and Means Committee proposes to reduce federal support to 50 percent of program costs by 2010. The proposal also calls for additional program cuts, and directs states to charge custodial parents a $25 annual fee for the collection effort.
Sheketoff noted that the proposals to cut child support and other programs that help low- and middle-income families are meant to pay for the costs of large tax cuts for some of the nation’s wealthiest families. “The House Ways and Means Committee expects Oregon, especially our most vulnerable children, to pick up the tab for Congress’ wild spending on tax breaks for the rich,” said Sheketoff. “Cutting child support collections shows that the priorities of Congress are not in line with the mainstream in Oregon.”
The full House is expected to vote on the proposal next week. Sheketoff called on Oregon’s delegation in the House to oppose the cuts to child support collection. “Oregon cannot afford to slash child support funding. Oregon’s children deserve better.”
Nationally, the Ways and Means Committee proposal would slash child support collections by $24 billion over the next ten years, based on preliminary estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.