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JFC Asked to Release $15 Million to Support Child Care Providers Statewide PDF Print E-mail
Written by GOV Press Wisconsin   
Tuesday, 21 May 2024 13:44

childcareRequest builds upon governor’s continued efforts to support state workforce, lower childcare costs for working families, and prevent state childcare industry closures.

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) submitted a formal s. 13.10 request to the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) to release $15 million aimed at supporting child care providers and working families across Wisconsin. Gov. Evers enacted the 2023-25 biennial budget creating a $15 million child care fund appropriation at WEDC for child care providers. Under the submitted request, the $15 million would be directed to support the successful Child Care Counts Program in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF). To date, the Child Care Counts has helped over 4,700 child care providers keep their doors open, ensuring the employment of over 52,000 child care professionals and allowing providers to continue to provide high-quality care to nearly 290,000 kids.

The request builds upon Gov. Evers’ continued efforts to address Wisconsin’s looming child care crisis. Most recently, in March, Gov. Evers signed 2023 Wisconsin Act 101, which expands the current child and dependent care tax credit from 50 percent to 100 percent of the federal credit, helping reduce the tax burden for families struggling to afford the high cost of child care and care for adult dependents. Act 101, similar to a proposal Gov. Evers recommended in his 2023-25 biennial budget proposal, is estimated to provide tax relief to over 110,000 Wisconsin taxpayers at an average benefit of over $656 per filer, totaling nearly $73 million in annual tax relief.

tony-evers“Ensuring working families have access to affordable child care is critical to supporting our state’s workforce and our future economic success—that means we have to make sure our early childhood education providers have the resources they need to keep the doors open and their lights on and that we’re supporting their good work in every way we can,” said Gov. Evers. “It’s no secret that without sustainable, meaningful investments, our state’s child care industry faces imminent collapse, which would be a disaster for our kids, our working families, our workforce and economy. I will continue to do what’s best for our kids, and I urge Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee to approve this request without delay.”

“We are extremely grateful for Gov. Evers support and commitment to the Child Care Counts program,” said DCF Secretary Emilie Amundson. “This extension, combined with future innovations, will allow us to continue to strengthen our early care and education industry so that families across the state have access to affordable child care.”

According to a report from The Century Foundation, it is estimated that, without the necessary investments to stave off the looming fiscal cliff facing the state’s child care industry, 2,110 child care programs are projected to close, resulting in the loss of over 4,880 child care jobs, leaving more than 87,000 kids in Wisconsin without child care, resulting in approximately half a billion dollars in economic impacts between parents leaving the workforce and reduced employer productivity. Gov. Evers has called this scenario “catastrophic,” having “broad, cascading effects across Wisconsin’s economy.”

Additionally, a recent survey conducted this past January by the National Association for the Education of Young Children describes the current circumstances for Wisconsin child care providers and families. According to the survey, 43 percent of early childhood educators surveyed reported increased burnout since January 2023; 41 percent of child care directors and owners indicated their program is experiencing staffing shortages; 53 percent indicated that their liability insurance costs have increased; and 50 percent have had to raise tuition prices in the past six months.

“Across our state, businesses, and communities are finding ways to support local child care providers to keep these vital services in place,” said WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. “The Evers Administration has been leading on this issue, and these funds will help us continue our work to support working families, small business owners, and employers across our state.”

Gov. Evers’ 2023-25 budget proposal included making the Child Care Counts Program a permanent state program with a more than $340 million investment to help keep Wisconsin workers in the workforce, expand access to affordable child care for working families, and support early care and education providers. This funding, along with many other budget investments to support working families, was ultimately removed from the final budget by Republicans in the Legislature.

Republican lawmakers instead opted to create a child care revolving loan fund at WEDC, setting aside $15 million in the JFC’s supplemental appropriation for the purpose of providing loans to child care providers. The budget provision was partially vetoed by Gov. Evers, who used his broad, constitutional veto authority to ensure the $15 million at WEDC could be used for grants to child care providers rather than loans. In his veto message, Gov. Evers noted his objection to limiting WEDC’s flexibility in disbursing these funds to child care providers given the Legislature’s continued refusal to make substantial investments to bolster the state’s child care industry and help keep child care providers open to support our state’s workforce.

Gov. Evers has repeatedly called on the Legislature to pass his comprehensive workforce plan, which would stabilize Wisconsin’s child care industry and prevent its collapse, among other issues facing Wisconsin’s workforce. Similar to his original budget proposal, Gov. Evers’ comprehensive workforce plan would have provided more than $340 million for the successful Child Care Counts Program at DCF. After months of Republicans delaying action on Gov. Evers’ comprehensive workforce plan to help keep child care provider doors open and provide direct investments designed to immediately help parents afford child care, Gov. Evers directed $170 million in emergency stopgap funding to DCF to continue the Child Care Counts Program at current funding levels through June 2025. More information on Gov. Evers’ efforts to address the child care crisis affecting Wisconsin families is available here.

A copy of the s. 13.10 request submitted by WEDC to JFC is available here.

This request comes as last week, Gov. Evers sued the Wisconsin State Legislature over its refusal to release a critical investment aimed at improving K-12 student literacy, one of many investments intended to respond to pressing challenges facing Wisconsin. Additional information on Gov. Evers’ countersuit and Republican’s refusal to release nearly $200 million in already-approved funding to fight PFAS, improve kids’ literacy, and respond to hospital closures in Western Wisconsin is available here.

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