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Brownback Examines Dc Marriage Accounts


Guest U.S. Senator Sam Brownback
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Guest U.S. Senator Sam Brownback

U.S. Senator Sam Brownback today chaired a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the District of Columbia to examine Marriage Development Accounts and the eroding state of marriage in the District.

 

“Every year almost 57 percent of all babies born in the District are born to single parents,” Brownback stated. “Nationally, over one-third of all babies are born to single parents. This compares to only 5.3 percent in 1960. Children who are raised without both parents suffer in many ways. Statistics show that children born to single mothers are 7 times more likely to be poor than those born to married parents and that over 80 percent of long-term child poverty occurs in broken or never-married families.”

 

The hearing was called to discuss the decline in marriage and the increase in the out-of-wedlock birthrate in the District of Columbia. It examined way to effectively promote and encourage healthy marriage and the need for intact families to help society at large. Marriage Development Accounts in the District of Columbia were proposed in the fiscal year 2006 DC Appropriations bill.

 

Brownback continued, “I believe that improving a couple’s financial stability can help sustain a healthy marriage. Marriage has an enormous potential to reduce poverty among couples who are unmarried at the time of their child’s birth. Children born and raised in households where their mothers and fathers are married tend to be more financially stable and more emotionally stable. Statistics tell a compelling story of the many positive benefits that accrue to children if they are raised by their married parents. Children raised in married families are three times less likely to repeat a grade in school; five times less likely to have behavioral problems; half as likely to be depressed; three times less likely to use illicit drugs; half as likely to become sexually active as teenagers; and 14 times less likely to suffer abuse from their parents.”

 

As a way to assist low-income married couples gain appreciable assets, the subcommittee introduced legislation that will establish Marriage Development Accounts in the District of Columbia. MDAs will be available to low-income married couples who are citizens or legal residents of the District and who have very low net worth. Couples may save money to buy a home, pay for job training or education, ors tart their own businesses. Couples will have a high incentive to save because their contributions will be matched at a ratio of 3:1 by the Federal government and partnering private institutions. As a requirement of participation, couples will receive training that helps them repair their credit, set a budget and savings schedule, and manage their money. They will also receive bonuses in their MDA accounts for receiving marriage counseling.

 

Brownback is a member of the Appropriations Committee and chairs the District of Columbia subcommittee.

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