EICAt a recent meeting of community advocates I had the opportunity to participate in an activity wherein all participants took a few moments to brainstorm slogans, logos, or catchphrases in support of enacting an Earned Income Credit (EIC) in Kentucky. Although we represented a diverse array of organizations, all attendees support enacting a state-level EIC and, as such, my first inclination was that all of our respective responses would be more or less similar to one another. As we began to go around the room and share the results of our creative brainstorming, I realized just how mistaken my initial assumption was—I was struck not by the uniformity of the slogans, but by their diversity. In fact, virtually every participant highlighted some merit of a state EIC that was altogether unique. Looking at our growing list of slogans, I realized that the varied nature of the responses serves as a perfect illustration of the many ways a state-level EIC would benefit Kentucky families.

One advocate’s proposed slogan emphasized the EIC’s ability to improve families’ financial security and self-sufficiency by promoting workforce participation: Welfare to Work—Easing the Transition. Certainly this is one of the most powerful ways an EIC benefits families. Research has shown that the EIC encourages more parents, particularly single mothers, to move into the workforce. Over time, the earning power of these parents grows making them less dependent on government assistance (an idea captured in another advocate’s proposed slogan: Break the Cycle of Dependency). A state EIC can make this incentive to work even more pronounced.

Another slogan read: Not a Hand Out…A Hand Up. Families are only eligible to receive the EIC if they are working; these are families who pay taxes and contribute to local economies. However, in today’s economic climate, employment—even at more than one job—is no guarantee of financial security. When wages alone are not enough to make ends meet, the EIC provides a boost to family income that is most often used to pay for basic necessities. A state EIC could put more money in the pockets of hard working Kentucky families.

With one of the five highest poverty rates in the nation, Kentucky must do more to support low-income families. As one advocate’s slogan noted, a Kentucky EIC is: A Small Investment that Makes a BIG Difference in the Lives of Working Kentucky Families. After all, a successful Kentucky depends on successful families. Legislators must choose to make this small investment—enacting a refundable Kentucky EIC—in the upcoming 2014 General Assembly. One succinct slogan summarized it well: The Time is Now!