The Bottom LineThe Bottom Line

Economics in Brief: White House Interns Will Be Paid for the First Time

Also: New York’s Excluded Workers Fund is in limbo

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White House Allocates $4.5 Billion for Paid Internships — Expanding Access to Low-Income Applicants

The Senate’s budget bill has allocated $4.5 million to fund the internship program at the White House and Executive Office — expanding access to low-income students nationwide.

“A White House internship is the equivalent of a Rhodes Scholarship, in terms of prestige,” Carlos Mark Vera, the executive director of Pay Our Interns and former unpaid White House intern, told Insider. “You do the White House internship, you’re pretty set. Most doors open.”

The Biden administration had promised commitment to equity. Last June, President Biden signed an executive order asking the federal government to reduce its reliance on unpaid internships, as the U.S. depends on approximately 1 million unpaid interns according to a brief from the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The report also shows that middle-class and low-income students are more likely to “self-select out of unpaid work” because of their financial status.

Now, staffers are working to advocate for better treatment and have also announced plans to unionize Capitol Hill.

New York’s Excluded Workers Fund Is Unlikely to Renew

While ongoing negotiations concerning New York’s state budget continue, the renewal of the Excluded Workers Fund, a cash relief program for undocumented New Yorkers, is unlikely to pass, Documented reports.

The Fund paid more than $2 billion to over 128,000 New Yorkers that were exempt from federal stimulus packages but ran out of funds in October 2021. As a result, the state is now prioritizing access to other forms of assistance through the expansion of health insurance for undocumented workers.

Advocates have been fighting to include undocumented folks in the state’s health insurance, Essential Plan, which covers families that have incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty line (appr. $55,000 for a family of four). According to Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), the expansion seems likely, though the state legislature still needs to negotiate with Governor Hochul to include it in her executive budget proposal.

Regardless, activists are still hoping to renew the Excluded Workers Fund, as approximately 350,000 claims remain unfilled.

“The coalition is going to fight like hell for the next two weeks to revive [the fund],” said Jose Lopez, co-executive director of immigration nonprofit Make the Road New York.

Undocumented activists are planning a 150-mile march from New York City to Albany before the April 1 budget deadline to promote the funding of the program.

Pandemic Aid for Minnesota Daycares Still Isn’t Enough

Despite prominent aid from the Biden administration to reform the child-care system, advocates are calling for additional help, the Star Tribune reports.

Minnesota, a state that is leading efforts to save the industry, lost nearly 500 in-home childcare businesses amid a shortage of childcare workers last year. While federal relief provided licensing and training aid, renovations, and college scholarships for incoming workers, employees rarely remain in the industry because of poor labor conditions.

“You really can’t overstate the extent to which early childhood educators are in deep poverty,” state Rep. Dave Pinto, DFL-St. Paul and chair of the House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee, told the Star Tribune. “A quarter of [employees] experience food insecurity. A third of them are on public assistance themselves.”

Families are also struggling to pay for these services as they remain impacted by the pandemic. Biden’s Build Back Better plan includes a measure that would allow middle-class families to pay no more than 7% of their income on childcare. And the state of Minnesota is proposing the use of $1.8 billion in their state budget to enroll 50,000 children in school programs, childcare centers and more.

But these programs are still under review while hundreds of families remain on waiting lists for additional aid. Read more about the way other communities are working to help daycare centers, here.

This article is part of The Bottom Line, a series exploring scalable solutions for problems related to affordability, inclusive economic growth and access to capital. Click here to subscribe to our Bottom Line newsletter.

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Solcyre (Sol) Burga was an Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow with Next City for summer 2021. Burga graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in political science and journalism in May of 2022. As a Newark native and immigrant, she hopes to elevate the voices of underrepresented communities in her work.

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Tags: new york citypovertyminnesotaundocumented immigrantsdaycare

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