Shumlin: Child care funding options limited - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Shumlin: Child care funding options limited

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Working mom Erin Star Hughes pays roughly 40 percent of her income to child care costs. "I believe that I spend 9 to 10 thousand dollars a year on childcare, if not more," Hughes said,

Rebecca Rectenwald is forking over roughly $100 a week to get her little girl cared for while she's at work. "We don't have a car, we ride the bus, we have Dr. Dinosaur, we have WIC," she said.

Governor Shumlin is pushing a plan he says will help bring those costs down.  He wants to use $17 million from the state's Earned Income Tax Credit to do it.

Under the proposal a single mom with two kids, in child care, making around $40,000 a year would go from paying roughly $850 a month for child care, to $300 with the new subsidies.

"You often hear people say, well you know you are taking from one group and giving to another. I argue no, you are making a choice about Vermont's future," Shumlin said.

Chris Curtis with Vermont Legal Aid said tapping into the EITC is the wrong answer. "This is a cornerstone for low-income, working Vermonters and we want to see it preserved and protected," he said.

Curtis said thousands of Vermonters depend on the tax credit to pay for things like rent, food and fuel. He argues that Shumlin should look elsewhere to cover the expanded benefits, but offered no suggestions. "That's a question for the Legislature and a question for the administration and they should be looking at all the possible options, not just honing in on one benefit program that we know already works for working Vermonters," he said.

Shumlin took on critics challenging him to dip into another pot, saying  the options are limited. "Talking about alternatives sound great until you try and go find them," he said.

Shumlin's child care plan is part of a larger effort to transform Reach Up, the state's welfare program. He said it's a much-needed move to fix a broken system. "Our current system freezes our kids in poverty, it freezes our parents in poverty and we can do much better," he said.

A big question now is whether the governor will be able to get the Legislature on board.

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