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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn (DFL)

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Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn and Sen. Grant Hauschild Introduce the Great Start Affordability Act

Monday, February 26, 2024


Minnesota House of Representatives 



CONTACT:  Marlee Schlegel 

651-296-9873 or 

February 26th, 2023 


Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn and Sen. Grant Hauschild Introduce the Great Start Affordability Act 

SAINT PAUL, Minn. -  Today, Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn (DFL – Eden Prairie), Sen. Grant Hauschild (DFL – Hermantown), Chair of the Children and Families Committee Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL – Saint Paul), and María Isa Pérez-Vega (DFL – Saint Paul) were joined by colleagues, parents and advocates as they held availability on the Great Start Affordability Act, which would lower the cost of childcare and early learning for Minnesota families. The bill, HF 3681, increases the affordability of high-quality early care and learning for families with children from birth to kindergarten, aiming to meet the federal recommendation that no family pays more than 7% of their annual income for early care and learning. The bill received its first House hearing last week, and its first Senate hearing this afternoon.  

The bill is authored by Rep. Kotyza-Witthuhn in the House and Sen. Hauschild in the Senate.  

“We have the opportunity with this proposal to make a huge impact on the lives of thousands of Minnesota families,” said Rep. Kotyza-Witthuhn. “Every family deserves access to quality childcare they can afford. The Great Start Affordability program will bring us one step closer to making Minnesota the best place to raise a family. Currently, care for one infant is around $17,000 per year across the state. That’s more than a year of college tuition at the University of Minnesota. We shouldn’t be asking young parents, who are often at the beginning of their careers, at their lowest earnings potential, to shoulder this cost alone.” 

The Great Start Affordability Act would make a monthly per-child payment directly to providers, reducing the amount families have to pay up-front. This ensures the assistance is received when it’s needed most rather than during tax season as a rebate. Payment amounts would be based on the family’s income, topping out at 150% of the state median income, which is about $175,000. About 85% of Minnesota’s families with children under the age of five would be eligible in some way on a sliding scale.   

“Without a doubt, one of the top issues I hear about is the availability and affordability of childcare,” said Senator Hauschild, the chief Senate author of the bill.  “I’ve hosted several childcare roundtables throughout Northeast Minnesota, and I continue to be astounded by the number of families who approach me about the affordability of childcare. In many rural communities, childcare quite literally does not exist.” 

Last session, DFLers took action to support Minnesota children and families with measures such as expanding Early Learning Scholarship availability, investing in building out our nation-leading Early Childhood and Family Education program statewide, making it easier for families to access developmental screenings and executive functioning skills, and raising the reimbursement rates for the Child Care Assistance program. However, nearly 75% of Minnesotans are ineligible due to having incomes above eligibility, but not enough to cover child care costs without struggling. 

"Child care affordability is a critical issue that affects workforce development," said Rep. María Isa Pérez-Vega. "When parents cannot afford quality childcare, they may be forced to choose between staying home with their children and going to work. This can have a significant impact on their economic opportunities and long-term financial security." 


“Early care and learning has been in crisis for decades - unaffordable and inaccessible to families and paying poverty wages to educators,” said Rep. Dave Pinto, chair of the House Children and Families committee. “Last session, we made big strides for the lowest-income families, but middle-income families continue to struggle; now is the time to help them, for the benefit of us all."   

Video from the press conference is available on the House Info YouTube page.