State News

Executive and congressional-level Democrats aim to support early education

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Gov. Tony Evers create bills to help educate children in poverty by supporting child care and public education. 

Image By: Michael Makowski

Tammy Baldwin and Gov. Tony Evers both proposed an increase in funding to support early child care and public education in separate bills this past week.

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., introduced a Democrat-supported and drafted bill intending to improve access to affordable child care for kids ages zero to 13, in hopes of supporting families in poverty across the country. 

With 98 cosponsors, the Child Care for Working Families Act promises to create 770,000 new child care jobs, allowing 1.6 million parents to be able to go back to work. The authors believe the benefits this will create for primarily working mothers would lift 1 million families out of poverty. 

“For working parents in Wisconsin struggling to get ahead, high-quality, affordable child care is out of reach for too many,” U.S. Sen. Baldwin said. “Our hardworking Wisconsin families deserve a better deal. I’m proud to help introduce this legislation that will help ensure more families have access to affordable child care and lift them out of poverty.”

The proposal pointed to the increased cost of child care nationally — 25 percent more than 10 years ago — to show the need for expanded support. In fact, it stated that in about 28 states, the cost of early childhood care is more expensive than in-state college tuition at a public university. 

If implemented, the Child Care for Working Families Act would ensure that no family under 150 percent of the state median income pays more than 7 percent of their income on child care, regardless of the number of children they have. It would also exempt families under 75 percent of their respective state’s average income from paying for child care at all.

On a long-term scale, the bill hopes to increase funding for preschools, elementary schools, disability and special needs programs and facilitate better training of teachers and caregivers. 

Gov. Tony Evers also proposed legislation to benefit children in poverty during his State of the Budget Address on Thursday. 

Gov. Evers’ plans included a pay raise to teachers, claiming Wisconsin’s current rate is below the national average, allocating $600 million to special education and raising the per-pupil minimum spending number to $3000 annually.

“I’ve said all along that what’s best for our kids is best for our state, and investing in our kids will yield dividends for our future,” Gov. Evers said during his address. “We’re going to start with providing historic investments in K-12 education and returning to two-thirds funding at the state level.”

Funding for Gov. Evers’ $1.4 billion education budget increase will be created partially by an increased property tax of $200 per student and also by the elimination of a tax benefit granted to parents whose children attending private schools.  

However, it is likely none of these proposals will become law as the Republican held legislature has no intention of raising taxes on any level. 

"I think an opportunity was missed to really work with the Republican Legislature to try and create a budget that I think would be real and would be family-supported," Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said after Thursday’s address. "A lot of the items he's got in there I think are going to raise taxes significantly on families."

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