MADISON, Wis. (Civic Media) – Republicans spent around 38 seconds in a special session today to take up a slate of childcare and workforce development bills. That special session was called by Governor Tony Evers earlier this year after Republicans stripped his proposed budget of several child care-related bills.
The most significant of those proposals would continue to fund the Child Care Counts program. That program sent federal funds to childcare centers across the state during the pandemic. But those funds are about to dry up, and Evers proposed using part of the state’s budget surplus to continue to program.
Republicans have regularly dismissed Evers’ calls for special sessions. While the legislature has to call the session into order, they don’t have to debate the bills, and the sessions regularly last less than a minute.
The legislature did not dismiss the proposed bills completely out of hand today. Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu says that the bills will be sent to committee just as any other legislation. It is unlikely any action will be taken on the proposed bills.
According to a new report from Forward Analytics, the nonpartisan research arm of the Wisconsin Counties Association, child care costs between 18-36% of a median Wisconsin family’s annual income. That report says that childcare for two children costs, on average, around $25,000 a year. That’s more than it costs for tuition at UW Madison, which is around $22,000 a year.
Republicans have their own slate of bills to address child care in Wisconsin. Their proposals largely look to relax regulations of child care centers, lowering the minimum age for workers, adjust mandated child-to-staff ratios, and allow families to deduct childcare costs from their taxes. Democrats oppose the bills over safety concerns.
The bills passed the Assembly last week, and have not yet received a public hearing in the Senate.