Yesterday, the Senate Revenue and Economic Development Committee of the Nevada Legislature heard SB 147. This bill aims to offer up to a $2,500 tax credit to workers earning 85% or less of the median income. It’s not only a bill aimed at serving a critical need, but also a key part of the Democrats’ “Nevada Blueprint” agenda.
“This is an important bill. It’s not just about family values, but also valuing families.” – Senator Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas)
This is how Senator Spearman opened the hearing on SB 147. She referred to a 2015 White House Council of Economic Advisors report stating that investments in early education generate economic returns of over $8 for every $1 spent. She also spoke of working-class Nevadans’ struggles to afford basics like child care in making the case for her bill.
She got a strong assist from Senator Patricia Farley (NP-Summerlin South). When Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson (R-Henderson) asked about the cost of the bill, Farley quickly jumped in with a “ballpark estimate” of $10-10.5 million. She also shared her first-hand knowledge on child care.
“As a working mom & an employer, I know first-hand the stresses of child care.” – Senator Farley
When Senator Ben Kieckhefer (R-Reno) pressed for more details on how to enforce the standards (such as 85% of median income threshold) present in the bill, Farley explained both ends of the employer-employee relationship. She also answered Senator Heidi Gansert’s (R-Reno) question on referral costs with her own experience with care.com.
The Children’s Advocacy Alliance submitted the friendly amendment stipulating the 85% of median income threshold, and that tax credits be used at child care facilities that participate in the state rating system. When asked by Senator Kieckhefer why the amendment was needed, policy analyst Jared Busker referred to the regulations and funding levels for current child care programs that were discussed during an earlier hearing.
John Sasser from Washoe Legal Services explained further in citing the 2,000 children currently on the waiting list for child care assistance in Washoe County. He also explained how limited federal and state funding for child care assistance have exacerbated this problem.
“As in most things in life, you get what you pay for.” – Senator Farley
Roberson showed little appetite for cooperating with Spearman or Farley to pass SB 147, but Kieckhefer and Gansert seemed more open to considering it. Spearman stated her willingness to consider additional changes to “make it work”, as “we have to work hard for working people.”
The Nevada Legislature has already begun moving on Democrats’ “Nevada Blueprint” agenda. If SB 147 passes, it will fulfill part of Democratic leaders’ economic justice plank.