September 18, 2018
DID YOU KNOW: About  Nancy Wagman, Kids Count Director, MassBudget and " Obstacles on the Road to Opportunity: Finding a Way Forward"  Author 

Nancy started her career in Community Action - in a WIC  program overseen by ABCD in Mission Hill, Roxbury.  She has also  worked at Massachusetts Senate Post Audit and Oversight Bureau and has been a policy and program analyst at the state Department of Public Health, a human services agency planner, and a special education advocate...All before her time at MassBudget.

This impressive experience helped her develop and reinforce not only her interest in public policies and programs that help vulnerable people, but also her commitment to understand the connection between public policies and their implementation.  Implementation can change the intent of policy; therefore, policy should be informed by practice and by those responsible for implementing.

Nancy sees her role and MassBudget's role as providing credible research as essential tools for advocating for policy change.  As Kids Count Director, she helps advocate to ensure that the most vulnerable kids are not left out.  She knows that information is empowering and credible data and truths support policy change.  

The report commissioned by MASSCAP and published in May 2018, Obstacles on the Road To Opportunity: Finding a Way Forward, was a chance to tell an important story about why policy choices matter in the lives of people across the Commonwealth. Policy choices from the past still have an impact today. This report also shows how we can remove obstacles to opportunity by providing access to well-paying work and well-resourced communities.
POLICY MATTERS: Past, Present and Future
Policy choices from the past still have an impact today.  
  • Today's wage gap didn't just happen. In 1970's:
    • Real value of minimum wage declined
    • Protections for workers and unions weakened
    • Macroeconomic policy focused on fighting inflation, not supporting full employment
  • Racial disparities are the result of policy choices. Post WWII:
    • Veteran benefits were not equally available to all veterans 
    • "Red-lining" denied access to people of color to certain communities
    • Education was not equally accessible
  • War on Poverty brought Great Society Legislation in 1960's:
    • Economic Opportunity Act and Community Action
    • Head Start
    • Increase in minimum wage
    • Job Training
    • SNAP
For more information and to access the data, "Obstacles on the Road to Opportunity: Finding a Way Forward" published in May 2018
Choices we make today will impact our future.  
wage gap chart
Today unemployment may be down, but the wage gap is extreme.   Wages for low-wage workers (10th percentile) have been stagnant while for high wage workers (90th percentile) grew notably (+46%) over the past 30 or so years.  In MA, income growth for the top 1% has more than tripled while remaining stagnant for those at lower incomes.

2 positive steps toward equal opportunity:
MA will increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 30% of the federal tax credit in the FY19 budget.  This will mean a significant increase in tax credit for those eligible (from approximately $1,500 to $2,000). 

MA will increase the minimum wage from $11 to $15 over the next five years.  The bill also includes provisions to establish a paid family and medical leave program.  
Together with Worcester Community Action Council (WCAC), we will hold our next forum focused on the findings of the report, Obstacles on the Road to Opportunity: Finding a Way Forwardon October 5 at 7:30 a.m. at Mechanics Hall in Worcester with special guest Congressman  Jim McGovern. Click here for more information and to register.

Together with Community Action of Pioneer Valley, Springfield Partners for Community Action and Valley Opportunity Council, we will hold the next in the series of forums in Springfield on October 26Click here for more information and to register.

Our Mission
To strengthen and connect the statewide network of Community Action Agencies and collectively advocate for an end to poverty.

Our Vision
All MA residents will be able to meet their basic needs, access economic opportunities, build strong communities and move toward prosperity...

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