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Bill Would Bump Up State Tax Credit to Help Families Pay for Child Care

High-quality early learning and care leads to improved educational achievement and health, and increased employment and future earnings. (Pixabay)
High-quality early learning and care leads to improved educational achievement and health, and increased employment and future earnings. (Pixabay)
February 8, 2018

DENVER — Lawmakers in Colorado have introduced a measure aimed at helping working families struggling with rising child care costs.

The bill would allow families earning $25,000 a year or less to bump their state credit from the current 50 percent up to 80 percent of what they get from the federal tax credit. Natalie Wood, senior policy analyst with the Bell Policy Center, said she believes the move would be a smart investment.

"A tax credit for working Colorado families to help pay for child care is a pretty direct and efficient way to help them with the rising, painful child care costs that they're facing,” Wood said. “It helps people go to work. It's really infrastructure for our state."

Wood pointed to a recent report by Congress' Joint Economic Committee showing that improved access to affordable child care would lead to more women entering and staying in the workforce. And it could increase the national GDP by as much as $600 million annually.

She added that access to high-quality early learning leads to improved health outcomes for children, and better wages as adults.

Rich Jones, director of policy and research at Bell, said Colorado families are being squeezed by rising housing, health care and child care costs at the same time that their earnings are falling flat.

"We did some analysis that shows that average weekly wages in Colorado have only gone up $33 in total per week between 2000 and 2016 when you adjust for inflation,” Jones said.

The legislation was introduced by House Speaker Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat, and co-sponsored by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, a Thornton Republican. The bill was assigned to the House Finance Committee. A fiscal note, outlining the potential cost of the measure to state coffers, has not yet been added.

More information is available at BellPolicy.org.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO