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|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2015
|For More Information Contact:
Jessica Anderson (651) 230-2486
St. Paul, Minn. – Minnesota's budget surplus has grown to $1.869 billion, according to the state budget and economic forecast released today by the Minnesota Management and Budget agency. The forecast will inform Governor Mark Dayton’s and legislative leaders' two-year budget plan. Peggy Flanagan, executive director of Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota, released the following statement in response to the announcement:
“Our state's economy has improved, but many Minnesota families still struggle to make ends meet. In fact, more than one-third of Minnesota children live in low-income households that cannot afford a basic needs budget. The positive projections announced today give lawmakers the opportunity to make investments that will create broader economic security for all Minnesota families.
"Child care is a two-generation approach to broader economic security because it allows parents to go to work and provide for their families and children to succeed in safe, nurturing environments. But child care needs to be affordable and accessible, and for many families, it isn't.
"Governor Dayton showed commitment to addressing our state's child care challenges by proposing an increase of $12.5 million in FY16-17 for Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance and expanding the child and dependent care tax credit. This was a great first step, but today's forecast shows that we can take it a step further.
"More than 6,000 low-income families are on the Basic Sliding Fee wait list and reimbursement rates for providers accepting child care assistance have eroded. Two-thirds of provider rates statewide are not covered in full by the reimbursement. Legislation introduced this session shows bipartisan support for further increasing our state's investment in Basic Sliding Fee, raising provider reimbursement rates, and improving the child and dependent care tax credit to help low- and moderate-income families afford the high cost of child care.
"As the governor and the legislature debate how to use the surplus, we hope they will prioritize these critical programs and policies to help make child care more affordable and accessible for hard-working low- and moderate-income families."
State Representatives Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) and Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie), and state Senator Jeff Hayden (DFL-Minneapolis) are among the bipartisan group of legislators who have introduced bills addressing child care affordability.
Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota is a member of Kids Can’t Wait, a coalition organized around creating affordable, accessible child care opportunities for all Minnesotans, including through increasing investment in the Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance Program, increasing CCAP provider reimbursement rates, and improving the child and dependent care tax credit. Other members include the Minnesota Budget Project, the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, the University of Minnesota – Center on Women and Public Policy, Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Hmong American Partnership, ISAIAH, Legal Services Advocacy Project, Minnesota Alliance of YMCAs, Minnesota Coalition for Women’s Economic Security, Project for Pride in Living, and YWCA of Minneapolis.
The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.