Little Rock, AR. — When it comes to state policies that help residents build and protect assets, Arkansas has room for improvement, according to new policy data released by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), a national economic nonprofit, as part of its Assets & Opportunity Scorecard. While the state has strong policies in place in the areas of education and health care, weak policies around financial assets leave its residents vulnerable in already tough economic times.
This newly-released data examines state-by-state information on 12 policies that provide a comprehensive picture of what states can do to help residents build and protect assets. Arkansas fared poorly in the areas of tax credits for working families; state microenterprise support; job quality standards; and college savings incentives.
Based on this report, Southern Good Faith Fund is exploring how to improve policies that help advance the economic security of Arkansans. Tamika Edwards, Director of Public Policy for Southern Good Faith Fund, which is an Assets and Opportunity Network Lead State Organization, noted two obvious obstacles low-income Arkansas residents often encounter. “Arkansas has restrictions in effect which prevent low-income people from saving money if they want to keep benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF),” said Edwards. “Furthermore, over 70 percent of low-income tax filers who would be eligible for the EITC do not claim it in Arkansas each year. Both issues negatively impact finances of many Arkansans and need to be addressed.” Southern Good Faith Fund is reaching out to organizations willing to partner on increasing the uptake of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and eliminating asset limits tests in Arkansas.
The Assets & Opportunity Scorecard – online at scorecard.cfed.org – is a comprehensive look at wealth, poverty and the financial security of families in the United States. It assesses the 50 states and the District of Columbia on how well residents are faring and what states can do to help residents build and protect assets. The Scorecard provides state-by-state performance and policy measures across five Issue Areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care and Education.
In January 2012, CFED will release the updated Assets & Opportunity Scorecard data on how residents are faring, along with a revamped comprehensive Assets & Opportunity web portal.
For more information on the Assets & Opportunity Scorecard and to see how Arkansas fared in the 12 policy priorities, visit http://scorecard.cfed.org
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Southern Good Faith Fund (SGFF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit affiliate of Southern Bancorp, Inc. The mission of SGFF is to increase incomes and assets of low-income residents in Arkansas and Mississippi through asset-building programs and public policy activities. Southern seeks to reduce poverty by improving education and economic opportunities for individuals and families. www.banksouthern.com
CFED expands economic opportunity by helping Americans start and grow businesses, go to college, own a home and save for their children’s and own economic futures. We identify promising ideas, test and refine them in communities to find out what works, craft policies and products to help good ideas reach scale, and develop partnerships to promote lasting change. We bring together community practice, public policy and private markets in new and effective ways to achieve greater economic impact.
Established in 1979 as the Corporation for Enterprise Development, CFED works nationally and internationally through its offices in Washington, DC; Durham, North Carolina; and San Francisco, California.