We’re nearing the end of another week in the 2023 session and bills related to child care and sick time were among those to recently reach the floor.
On Monday, the House majority approved increasing funding for the Child Care Assistance Program by more than $350 million in state general funds during the next two years. This program helps families obtain child care while parents are working or attending school and passage of this bill comes at a time our state is losing providers at an incredible rate.
While the intent of this program seems good, we also must acknowledge CCAP has been plagued by large-scale fraud in recent years and there are no provisions in the bill to make sure these dollars are reaching the people who need the help. Provisions providing accountability should have been implemented before we put hundreds of millions more taxpayer dollars toward CCAP.
Another bill the House majority passed on Monday appropriates more than $52 million to early learning scholarships ($40 million) and the Child Care Stabilization Grant Program ($12.5 million).
The good news is early learning scholarships are a productive for child care/early education because they empower parents to make decisions as they deem best for their families. On the other hand, child care stabilization grants have their own fraud concerns. Child care centers closely linked to those indicted by federal authorities also received stabilization funding and centers facing license revocations are funded with these grants.
We all want to support children and their families, but we need to make sure these taxpayer dollars are delivered for their intended purposes instead of being skimmed by of fraud, waste and abuse.
A bill related to sick time also received approval from the House majority last night. It also comes with significant concerns, especially regarding how new mandates will damage Minnesota’s job creators and Main Street businesses who are still recovering from COVID – while also facing continued inflation, supply chain issues and workforce shortages.
In addition, this bill does not include most of the employer protections under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, such as employers with less than 50 employees being exempt. This one-size-fits-all bill applies to all Minnesota employers who employ one or more persons. This bill seemingly could benefit attorneys the most, to the detriment of job providers, with potential lawsuits over technicalities.
I’ll be back with more from the House soon and, as always, I appreciate your input.