By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
A St. Joseph state representative who fell short in efforts to provide child care incentives during the last legislative session expects the issue to resurface as one of, if not the, top issue next session.
Rep. Brenda Shields got her child care tax credit bill through the House, but it got tangle up in Senate Republican infighting at the end of the session. Shields kept pushing the issue after the session wrapped up.
“We’ve been working really hard on it,” Shields tells KFEQ/St. Joseph Post. “I’ve been going around the state advocating for the bill, talking to business leaders so that we’re all on the same page. We have real plans to be able to get it across the finish line this year.”
Shields says the last-week collapse might have been avoided if she were able to start earlier.
“Well, we got started late on the bill,” Shields says. “We didn’t introduce it until after the governor’s State of the State address, so that puts us a month into session and I really think if we’d had more time, we would have been able to get it across the finish line.”
Despite backing by Gov. Mike Parson, the bill failed to make it through the session to his desk. Shield’s bill would have allowed child care providers to claim a tax credit of up to 30% of their expenses. Child care providers would also have been allowed to keep the withholding tax of their employees. Businesses would have been given a tax break if they helped offset the cost of child care for their employees.
“So, I think that that is helpful that we’ll be able to increase the capacity and then on top of that this will give businesses incentive,” Shields says. “They say that they have a problem, they can’t create a workforce, they can’t get enough people to work, because of child care issues. This requires businesses to put skin in the game and if they put skin in the game, then the state will get involved in the crisis and that’s exactly what the purpose of a great tax credit is.”
Shields says the business community needs to make its case for the incentives and not just during the next legislative session. Shields says business leaders need to be speaking with their individual legislators before the session starts in January.
“I think the key of getting it passed is making sure that we have our business community 100% behind it, so they can advocate their legislators,” Shields says. “And I think it’s once again tremendous communication with the legislative body on an individual basis which is what I’ve been doing all summer long.”
The Missouri General Assembly just concluded its annual veto session (with no vetoes overridden) and will return to the state Capitol in Jefferson City for the next session in January.