May 30, 2007

Joint Finance Committee

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

Last week the Joint Finance Committee approved over $70 million to fully fund the Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy program for low-income families. Limited federal funding and cost increases have created a deficit in child care over the last several years.  My colleagues and I worked hard to close the deficit, and help the families in our community.

Just a few short months ago, Milwaukee parents and community leaders were shocked and angry about how the proposed cost-saving measures in the Shares program would hurt low-income families. Through many difficult choices, we have reversed the cuts to child care and saved Wisconsin Shares.”  Affordable child care means that low-income families can keep working, and that is our priority. 

We also worked hard to eliminate several measures that would have hurt working families.  These included lowering income eligibility, creating waiting lists, increasing co-payments beyond inflation and employing attendance-based reimbursements for providers.  I want to thank my colleagues for maintaining our commitment to children and working families.

In addition to saving Wisconsin Shares, we were able to create a “Real Work, Real Pay” pilot program, which will help bridge people from W-2 to real jobs.  Participants will receive real, unsubsidized wages and be eligible for the homestead and federal earned income tax credits. This is the next step for Wisconsin working families.

Despite all our hard work, there is still much to be done.  To move families out of poverty, we must honor our commitment to fully fund W-2 work benefits and services as well as child care. I will continue to work with my colleagues to address this any other issues. 

While we did not get everything we wanted last week, I am very proud of our efforts.  We made the tough decisions, and helped to save a vital program for thousands of people.  Helping families in our community must be a priority for our state, and I will continue to fight to ensure that it is.