The Baltimore Baby Bonus Fund is a proposed Charter Amendment from the Maryland Child Alliance that would create a program to provide direct financial support to new parents in Baltimore City. The program would offer a one-time payment of at least $1,000 to Baltimore city residents upon the birth or adoption of a child. The aim is to improve the well-being of children and families, while also having long-term benefits for the economy as a whole. To make this a reality, the campaign is seeking to collect 10,000 signatures from registered voters in Baltimore City by July 27th, 2024, and then have the Charter Amendment added to the 2024 general election ballot. 

FAQ about the Baltimore Baby Bonus

1) Who is eligible to receive the payment?

This is a universal benefit accessible to any Baltimore City resident upon the birth or adoption of a child. Universal benefits remove administrative burdens that often prevent eligible families from receiving due benefits. Applying an income test would necessitate city-wide income tax data collection, which could exclude the poorest families who often do not file income taxes. These families are already missing out on numerous federal and state programs, and we cannot risk leaving them behind further.

2) Will this raise taxes?

No! Our amendment does not impact the tax code.

3) How much does it cost?

There are approximately 7,000 babies born each year in Baltimore. Thus, a $1,000 payment for each baby would cost about $7 million annually, or 0.16 percent of the city’s budget. The city budget typically increases by about $30 million annually. We can completely fund the Baltimore Baby Bonus without reducing funding to any other programs!

4) How is it paid for?

Our Charter Amendment does not determine the funding structure. Instead, it mandates that the City Council must allocate a specific amount towards the fund. Our funding structure requires an appropriation equal to 0.03% of city property value, but it does not raise property taxes. Our funding structure is modeled exactly after the Children and Youth Fund, which passed as a Charter Amendment in 2016 and already has legal standing.

The funding for the Baltimore Baby Bonus will come from the city’s general budget, which is $4.3 billion for 2024.

5) Who is behind this?

We are the Maryland Child Alliance, an advocacy organization fighting to reduce and eventually eliminate child poverty in the state of Maryland. We are a collection of teachers, business leaders, attorneys, medical professionals, and community members dedicated to improving the lives of Maryland children and families.

6) Is it retroactive?

Unfortunately, it is not. However, we at the Maryland Child Alliance are also engaged in state-level lobbying to advocate for the expansion of the state's Child Tax Credit. The current Child Tax Credit reaches a mere 1.5% of children.

7) How will the money be distributed?

Being a Charter Amendment, we can't detail the administrative specifics yet, but we are hopeful that the City Council will consider our guidance during implementation. We envision a simple process where parents can choose between a direct bank deposit, a check, or a prepaid debit card. We are committed to ensuring that payments reach the unbanked community.