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Affordable and accessible childcare for Iowans

House Republicans have worked hard to make childcare more affordable and accessible to Iowans. It is the hope of our caucus that the proposals we move forward will provide relief to the problems parents are facing across the state. We also hope that by addressing this issue, holes that currently exist in Iowa’s workforce will be able to be filled. Iowa’s workforce is very important to the constant success of this state and House Republicans are always working to build on that success. These bills aim to address all angles of the child care discussion by covering a wide range of topics.

There are still more bills that are being worked through the process, but this week we were able to pass six bills off the House floor to tackle the child care issue that House Republicans have heard so much about.

House File 230 — This bill increases the maximum net income threshold for the Iowa child and dependent care credit and the early childhood development tax credit. Currently Iowa parents get no credit if their net income is $45,000 or higher. This bill will allow more Iowa parents to claim this tax credit, by raising the maximum net income from $45,000 to $90,000. Iowans agree with House Republicans and do not believe that a family with a net income of $45,000 is rich and that child care is likely a huge part of their family expenses. This bill doubles the Iowa income limit and makes the credits available to all taxpayers’ incomes of less than $90,000 starting with tax year 2021.

House File 370 — This bill provides tax credits to businesses that choose to provide child care benefits to their employees. The bill also incentivizes the construction of new child care facilities and programs that link businesses and child care centers together. Our hope is to provide parents with a sense of ease and give them the ability to have a job that is accommodating to their children and child care needs.

House File 260 — This bill will allow non-registered child care homes to increase the number of children they can watch at their home by one school-aged child. Right now, non-registered child care homes can only have five children, this would increase that number to six. This bill is important for rural Iowa parents who do not have access to a child care center in their area.

House File 292 — This bill provides significant rate increases to child care providers accepting Child Care Assistance. By increasing all child care provider rates up to the 50th percentile of the most recent Market Rate Survey and providing increases to quality child care programs, this bill will annually increase money going towards child care by $13 million.

House File 302 — This bill establishes a state funded off-ramp program from Child Care Assistance (CCA) that will gradually increase cost-sharing from families as they increase their income. This bill removes the ceiling on Iowan’s ability to be successful. You often hear about the cliff effect in government programs — where individuals are stuck in welfare dependency and the program is limiting their ability to take a raise or promotion.

House File 301 — This bill establishes a public/private partnership to expand the child care workforce in the state. This bill will help recruit and retain child care providers in Iowa by providing matching funds to communities that match the state funds.

Also, this week the House passed Supplemental State Aid funding for our public schools, a 2.4 percent per pupil increase. This increases the state cost per pupil amount from $7,048 to $7,227, an increase of $179 per student. This package included a $10 increase towards balancing the district to district equity issue. This package also continues to address transportation equity which is raised at the same rate as SSA, which helps our rural districts that have high transportation costs.

Also, there was a bill that provides $30 million in additional funds for schools that offered in-person learning during this pandemic. Democrats have complained that this package somehow punishes schools that did not offer in-person learning, a false narrative. This additional funding recognizes that the costs of in-person learning were higher during the pandemic and helps those schools that provided it balance their revenue against their costs.

As they always do, Democrats are saying Republicans are underfunding public education. Republicans are responsible for record-high education investments over the last decade. K-12 education funding has increased by almost a billion new dollars over the last 10 years. The last time education funding was actually cut, was when Democrats had the trifecta in 2010.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you. Email me at dean.fisher@legis.iowa.gov.

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Dean Fisher is the state representative of District 72.

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