How California rates on the Prosperity Now Scorecard

■ By Mary Ann Morris / Editor

The Prosperity Now Scorecard is a comprehensive resource featuring data on family financial health and policy recommendations to help put all U.S. households on a path to prosperity. The Scorecard equips advocates, policymakers and practitioners with national, state, county and city data to jump-start a conversation about solutions and policies that put households on stronger financial footing across five issue areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Homeownership & Housing, Health Care, and Education.
California made huge strides in its rankings with the Prosperity Now Scorecard in the last five years.California now ranks No. 26 overall. The Scorecard ranks 56 outcome measures from best to worst: a score of 1 is the most desirable; a score of 51 is least desirable. Grades are given on a curve: states that rank 1-10 get As; 11-20 get Bs; 21-36 get Cs; 37-47 get Ds; and those that ranked 48-51 get Fs.

Policy Rankings from the Scorecard
California has adopted 10 of 20 policies designed to protect households.
While California has eliminated the SNAP and LIHEAP asset test, it still remains in effect for those applying for TANF. Regarding child and child care tax credits, the state has enacted a Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, but has not enacted a refundable Child Tax Credit. And while California protects consumers from abusive debt-buying practices, consumer assets are not adequately protected from debt collectors.
And while California does not provide funding for Individual Development Accounts, the state did enact an Earned Income Tax Credit that is refundable and is at least 15 percent of the federal credit.
As far as predatory lending goes, California does protect its consumers against car-title lending, but does not protect against payday lending or high-cost installment loans.
California does not allow for prize-linked savings or provide property tax relief, but the state has enacted an Automatic-Enrollment Individual Retirement Account (IRA) program.
And while California does have an income tax program and regulates its paid tax preparers, the state’s effective tax rate is lower for the 1 percent of top earners and is higher for the bottom 20 percent of earners, meaning that poor people are taxed at a higher rate than high-income earners. The state does not prohibit add-on fees for tax refund anticipation checks
And finally, California does offer a prepaid unemployment benefit card with few fees.

Next week the rankings and policies for the Businesses & Jobs section will be discussed.

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