Downing would use cash from tax reform to fund little one care suppliers

The chief candidate wants to limit childcare expenses

Matt Murphy
| State House Intelligence Service

Ben Downing, one of three Democrats running for governor, on Thursday called for massive new investment in childcare and advocated a law that would limit childcare spending for families to 7 percent of household income in order to gain access to Facilitate care for working families.

If elected, Downing said he would seek to use money from a “major tax reform” or the proposed high net income tax increase available in the 2022 vote to provide direct funding to childcare providers that is based on capacity, not on based on enrollment.

The goal, Downing said Thursday, would be to increase the capacity of the system and eliminate “childcare deserts” in parts of the state where demand can sometimes exceed available places by three to one. According to his campaign, Downing wants to “build a system of universal, affordable, high-quality early education and childcare for every toddler through pre-kindergarten in Massachusetts”.

“It should be as easy as K through twelve,” Downing said.

While state tax surveys have recently shattered billions of dollars in expectations and lawmakers debating how to use billions in additional federal incentives, the Democrats running for governor support everyone to generate more revenue through tax reform to pay for investments beyond the time window open to spending, excess and stimulus money.

Legislature proposed a constitutional amendment last month to a 2022 vote to add a 4 percent surcharge to household income above $ 1 million and generate an estimated $ 2 billion in taxes. These revenues, which Downing intends to tap, will be used under the proposal for “quality public education and affordable public colleges and universities, and for the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges and public transport”.

Downing was followed live on Instagram by his wife, Micaelah Morrill, to launch his latest political platform after posting plans to tackle climate change and poverty. Downing and Morrill raise two sons, Malcom and Eamon, in East Boston, and they both said figuring out how to balance childcare and careers was one of the toughest puzzles a family can solve.

Morrill said reform is needed not only to relieve families of the stress and financial burden of childcare, but also to support employers whose workers depend on childcare to stay employed and the economic recovery from COVID-19 -Support pandemic.

“When we get this right, it’s easier to get a lot of other things right,” said Morrill, later adding, “This is the time and the moment to break open this broken system and build a better one.”

Downing’s plan is based on a bill developed by the Common Start Coalition and submitted to the House of Representatives by Kenneth Gordon and Adrian Madaro and in the Senate by Sen. Jason Lewis and Su Moran.

The House of Representatives Act (H 605) has 103 co-sponsors, including Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, who launched her own campaign for governor last month.

Downing said his plan would save the “typical family” with a toddler $ 14,000 a year by capping childcare spending at 7 percent of household income, President Joe Biden’s upper limit for low- to middle-income families in his American family plan.

The cap, Downing said, would be phased in over three to five years as the state increases direct investment in daycare to expand capacity. As governor, he said he would prioritize free access for “underserved” families who live in communities hit by the pandemic and in need of help the most.

“It’s all a matter of building consensus on funding, be it fair share or major tax reform, but a way has to be found,” Downing said.

“We haven’t seen this leadership from Governor Baker. We haven’t seen this leadership from Beacon HIll. It’s time to step up,” he continued.

Downing and Morrill said the plan would not only save families money, but for every dollar invested in childcare, the state would save $ 13 in the long run on criminal justice, welfare, special education, and other costs.

In addition to longer waiting lists after many home centers closed during the pandemic, the average cost of childcare in Massachusetts is $ 21,000, according to Downing’s campaign.

Downing also said he will set up a childcare coordinating council to help families access non-childcare services such as health care, diaper banks and supplementary nutrition services.

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