'We Are Desperate': Tulsa Lawmaker Files Bill To Make Daycare More Affordable, Accessible

Lawmakers are discussing a bill whose sponsor says will help Oklahoma workers by making daycares more accessible and affordable.

Sunday, March 3rd 2024, 1:28 pm

By: News On 6


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Lawmakers are discussing a bill whose sponsor says will help Oklahoma workers by making daycares more accessible and affordable.

There are places across the state where parents don't have access to daycare, and this proposal looks to solve that issue.

If passed, House Bill 4147 would give a tax credit to businesses that share daycare costs with employees. And daycare workers would also see an extra $1,000 on their tax returns.

A lack of affordable and accessible childcare has been a problem for years.

Kristie Johnson said in 2022 that Kiowa County, where she lives, lacks daycare.

Tulsa State Representative Suzanne Schreiber (D-Tulsa) said making childcare affordable and accessible is a high priority this legislative session.

She filed a bill to not only address that issue but said the bill would also address a decline in Oklahoma’s workforce because more parents are choosing to stay home.

"They figure out that their childcare costs are more than their paycheck and so someone in the workforce ends up staying home. Oklahoma’s economy cannot afford that," Schreiber said.

In 2021, the Department of Human Services says there were less than 3,000 licensed daycare centers statewide. It says that number has since increased to nearly 4,000 daycares, but Schreiber says they are limited on the number of children they can take in because there is a lack of daycare workers.

"We are desperate, desperate, desperate, for childcare employees," Schreiber said.

To attract more childcare employees, Schreiber says if passed the bill would give a $1,000 tax credit refund each year and employers who give their employees childcare assistance would receive a 30-percent tax credit up to $30,000 each year per employer.

"So, their business model right now and what we’re paying is not really working. So, we need the employers to share in those costs," Schreiber said.

Lawmakers say the bill isn't to force anyone to return to work but to provide the option.

The bill will move to the full House for a vote.

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