Thursday, June 26, 2008

Never too early to start saving

Rep. Marilyn Lee recently returned from a forum on "Opportunities for Working Families" with a slew of ideas for possible legislation that can help Hawaii families thrive during the current economic strain in our state. The three-day forum, held last week in Denver, was sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures. No state funds were used for Rep. Lee's attendance to this conference.

In a report, Rep. Lee notes recommendations from several speakers that can help families with asset building, savings and financial stability at the state and federal level:

1.) Harness the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit by creating a state EITC/CTC.
2.) Regulate predatory lending by restricting pay day lending.
3.) Curbing abusive tax preparation practices.
4.) Reform asset limits in public assistance programs such as TANF, food stamps, Medicaid and SCHIP.
5.) Creating universal children's savings accounts for education, homeownership and retirement (using Chapter 529 as a platform).
6.) Allowing tax filers to request split refunds into multiple accounts to encourage savings. (Hawaii has done this this year)
7.) Encourage financial incentives to support savers by finding an activity to combine savings with a state service and bundle them.
One speaker also praised the success of an English policy that gives each child a savings account at birth.

Not a bad idea to jump start future American consumers with a "dollar saved, dollar earned" mentality rather than the "spend now, pay later" way of thinking many of us are guilty of today. (I turn my head in shame.)

Read Rep. Lee's detailed report of the conference here.
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