State Rep. Spencer Swalm seems intent to inflame these days, tossing out provocative bon mots on the House floor, in committee hearings and on the Twitter. The Centennial Republican on Monday railed against a bill aimed at easing tax burdens on low-income families.
“Don’t have kids out of wedlock,” Swalm said from the House floor. “If you’re married, if at all possible, try to stay married. Those are ways to lift your family out of poverty.”
That was Monday. He tweeted the same thoughts Thursday.
“Dems got mad when I truthfully stated that out of wedlock births causes chilhood [sic] poverty. Voters are saying RIGHT ON!”
House Speaker Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, who was born to an unwed mother and struggled financially growing up, responded strongly to the sentiments.
“Swalm displays a great deal of ignorance about the causes of poverty. His comments are an insult to every single person who lives in poverty, who works their butt off every single day just to keep their head above water.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey, single-parent homes account for 57 percent of families living below the poverty line. The survey also determined that, of all children living in single-parent homes, more than a third lived in poverty. This is compared to just 8.6 percent of children in married-couple families.
The legislation under consideration Monday, House Bill 1002, passed with a voice vote but is up for a final reading. It would give a family of four earning $41,000 or less a state earned-income tax credit once the state collected enough in income-tax revenue to begin giving refunds under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
Swalm told the Denver Post Monday that “intact families do better than dysfunctional or broken families.” He said he was not advocating people stay in abusive marriages.
“Those children are almost guaranteed to be in poverty. You don’t want kids in poverty? Don’t have kids out of wedlock,” Swalm repeated. “Better yet, get a high school degree. That doesn’t cost a dime.”
Last Thursday in committee, Swalm voted against House Bill 1008, which would force health insurance companies to stop using gender to determine customer rates on the individual health insurance market. Currently, women pay up to 59 percent more than do men of the same age, simply because they are women, despite the fact that most policies exclude maternity coverage and even birth control.
Swalm told the committee that he was an insurance broker. He thought eliminating gender discrimination would unfairly raise men’s premiums. He didn’t acknowledge men’s role in pregnancy or child birth. He said gender equality should mean lowering the rates for male teenage drivers as a group, as well. Teenage boys pay higher insurance rates based on behavior, that is, because they get into more accidents.