Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fighting Intergenerational Poverty

One of the issues that was discussed at interim session in September was the issue of intergenerational poverty.  Senator Stuart Reid placed the issue on the agenda of our Economic Development committee to find out what tools were at the State's disposal to help curb this cultural problem.

The hearing was slightly discouraging as we discovered that the state lacked the proper records to make substantive conclusions on the issue.  That means we will need to change the law to better account for who is receiving assistance from the State and when.

The poverty issue is a dead weight around the neck of the taxpayers of Utah.  A large portion of our state taxes are used to service those who find themselves in poverty.  If we can find a way to open doors of opportunity for children out of the poverty lifestyle, the state could return millions of dollars to its taxpayers.

Finding these opportunities will prove challenging.  Education has been mentioned as a key in breaking the poverty cycle.  Interestingly, due to mostly environmental forces, it appears that many in poverty remain in those circumstances due to a lack of education.  Yet, cultural forces within the poor community often place low value on educational opportunities or academic achievement.  It can be a viciously self-impeding feedback loop.

The CATO Institute recently published this brief video on poverty:

Hopefully the Legislature can address this issue this year and find some policy solutions that will benefit both the poor and the taxpayer alike.

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