State legislature calls for universal child care

Members of the state Senate and Assembly are pushing for universal child care in New York State. They are proposing funding in the budget this year that will exceed $3 billion.

“This is going to be one of the big banner items coming out of the legislative budget proposals,” said Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris. “We are focused on providing real child care support for people of this state.”

What you need to know

  • The state assembly and senate proposed an investment of more than $3 billion for universal child care in New York state
  • It comes as Mayor Adams and Governor Hochul pushed to get New Yorkers back into offices as the pandemic subsides
  • The proposal goes beyond what Gov Hochul proposed. It drew praise from Mayor Adams

Next week, both houses are expected to pass their one-house budget resolutions. While they are non-binding, they lay out the spending priorities for each house going into final budget negotiations with Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Lawmakers are aligned with universal child care, arguing it will jumpstart the economy.

“Child care pays for itself,” said Long Island Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages. “Do you know how many women dropped out of the workforce because they couldn’t afford childcare? How many families struggle because their income goes to childcare. Childcare is economic development.”

Here’s how it would work. Sources say this will increase the government subsidy to suppliers from where it currently stands at 69% to 90%. It will also expand admission to more than 200% of the poverty level.

And it comes as both Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Hochul have been pushing New Yorkers to get back into the office as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

“Especially because people are moving back to their offices, away from working from home where they can look after the children themselves. The need for childcare is greater than it has ever been. It’s going to help get us back on our feet. Help get the economy buzzing,” Gianaris said.

In response to the proposal, Mayor Adams issued a statement saying, “Access to affordable, high-quality child care is a priority for this administration, and we applaud members of the state legislature for prioritizing working families with this $3 billion investment. We fully support deep investments for families in need.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Gov. Hochul’s office said, “Gov. Hochul is committed to supporting New York State’s child care industry — leading the swift and efficient distribution of more than $900 million in stabilization grants to nearly 15,000 providers last fall, and proposing major expanding child care options on SUNY and CUNY campuses, investing $75 million in the child care workforce, increasing the number of children eligible for child care subsidies in the Executive Budget, and announcing $70 million in federal funding to end child care deserts The governor continues to work with the legislature to ensure that working parents have access to high-quality, affordable child care.”

Insiders say it could also be a major political victory for Democrats who have been criticized for failing to make changes to bail reform during a sharp rise in crime. Instead, it shifts the conversation back to preventing the root causes of crime.

“It’s really a step forward to invest in these programs. To ensure that we can prevent crime instead of incarcerating individuals for something we could have prevented in the long run,” said Solages.

Both houses are expected to pass their budget resolutions early next week.

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