A Flurry of Children’s Savings Activity in State Legislatures

Editor's note: This piece has been updated to include a universal CSA bill in Colorado. 

As demonstrated in our annual report on the growth of the children’s savings field, more than 457,000 children have a Children’s Savings Account (CSA), up from 382,000 children last year. That momentum is also evident in state legislatures around the country. During the 2019 legislative session, CSA-related legislation has so far been introduced in 11 state legislatures—a much larger number than in past sessions. Highlights include:

  • Illinois – The Illinois House passed a bill on April 2 by a vote of 66-42 that would create an automatic, at-birth CSA program with a $50 initial deposit for all children born or adopted in Illinois. The bill is now being considered in the Senate. The legislation is championed by the Illinois Asset Building Group, a Prosperity Now Community Champion.
     
  • California – Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian introduced a bill to create a statewide CSA program serving the nearly 500,000 children born each year in California. The bill passed the Assembly’s Education Committee, and is now with the Appropriations Committee. In a separate development, Governor Gavin Newsom requested $50 million in his budget proposal to support CSA pilots and partnerships with local governments and philanthropic organizations.
     
  • Colorado – House Speaker K.C. Becker, Representative Leslie Herod and Senate Leader Stephen Fenberg co-sponsored a bill to create a statewide, universal CSA program. While children would be automatically signed up for the program at birth, parents would have to open a 529 account within five years to receive the $100 initial deposit—making it essentially an opt-in program. Automatic enrollment, which does not require any action by the parent or child to open or claim the account, is a best practice for CSA programs. The bill went up for vote in the House and was passed!
     
  • Oregon – The proposed bill would create the Oregon Bright Futures Plan Task Force—a nine-member task force chaired by the state treasurer—to design a statewide CSA program. The bill passed the House Education Committee, and is now with the Ways and Means committee for consideration. Neighborhood Partnerships, a Prosperity Now Community Champion, is leading advocacy efforts.
     
  • New Mexico – State Representative Andrés Romero introduced a bill that would create a CSA program with a $500 initial deposit for infants whose family income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty line. Although the House Education Committee recommended the bill move forward, it was not voted upon before the legislative session ended in March.
     
  • Washington – State Rep. Christine Kilduff introduced a bill that would create a CSA program with a $100 initial deposit for low-income kindergarten students in the state’s public schools. While the bill made it out of the House Committee on College & Workforce Development—and a companion bill made it out of the Senate Committee on Higher Education—it did not make it through the Appropriations Committee before the fiscal cutoff.

We will continue to monitor the progress of all pending CSA legislation. While we do not expect most of these bills to pass this session, they will serve as a foundation for future efforts in those states. The heightened interest state legislatures have taken in CSA policies this year bodes well for the future of the children’s savings movement.

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