by Benjamin Yount
Republican lawmakers and Gov. Tony Evers are, perhaps surprisingly, on the same page when it comes to spending more money on childcare in Wisconsin.
The state’s budget-writing panel, the Joint Finance Committee, on Wednesday unanimously approved a plan to spend $194 million in federal funds to support childcare across the state.
“$194 million is a lot of money,” Rep Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, told lawmakers. “This is our job as a committee and members of the legislature to have a voice in how these programs are supported or created or expanded. Or in some cases not created and not expanded.”
The JFC vote tweaks a plan from Gov. Evers.
The new proposal still spends $194 million, and will continue to send the bulk of the money through the Department of Children and Families Child Care Counts division. The JFC proposal, however, dials back state support for so-called “targeted populations.”
“We have the finances to do both,” Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, told JFC members. “To both contribute to this and to ensure that our children’s vulnerability is taken care of and to make sure our economy can recover.. We don’t have to choose winners and losers.”
Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, who is one of the co-chairs at JFC said the idea behind the support for childcare is to do both. To both help parents find safe places for their kids, and help parents get back to work in Wisconsin.
“We’re doing things like this to improve access to childcare so that parents don’t have to leave the workforce because of childcare challenges,” Born explained. “Or if they are looking to get back into it after starting a family, we want those quality access points for childcare so that everyone who wants to get back into the workforce can do it.”
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Benjamin Yount contributes to The Center Square.