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With Ohio in a daycare crisis, Republicans propose three-way cost sharing for child care

Two GOP state lawmakers came out with an identical pair of proposals Wednesday to create a public-private child care funding partnership in Ohio.

Introduced by Sen. Michele Reynolds (R-Canal Winchester) and Rep. Mark Johnson (R-Chillicothe), the bills would establish a three-way child care cost-sharing program between eligible workers, their place of work and the state.

For the state’s portion, Senate Bill 273 and House Bill 610 would allocate $10 million. Reynolds and Johnson said the idea is modeled after TechCred Ohio, a workforce grant for technology training—although potential Child Care Cred participants would be reviewed and selected on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Reynolds said she wants to extend the possibility of affordable childcare to Ohioans who are ineligible for public assistance.

“Child care is really not affordable for anyone right now because of scarcity, so what we did was made this very flexible,” she said.

Businesses wouldn’t be under any obligation to participate, but Johnson said he thinks it will be “widely popular.”

But Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) said the child care conversation should almost always include raising assistance thresholds and reimbursement rates. No Democrats are signed on to the bill right now, but that doesn’t mean the minority caucus in the Senate wouldn’t back it, Antonio said.

“It's not an either-or. It's a but-and, right? And we need to look at all kinds of different strategies,” she said.

Other states, including Michigan, have similar tri-share programs in place already.

So far, SB 273 and HB 610 have the backing of the business community. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce and Goodwill Industries both attended the Wednesday news conference.

Rick Carfagna, a senior lobbyist for the chamber and former state lawmaker, said the bill isn’t a silver bullet—it's one solution to an issue the chamber sees as central to easing workforce woes.

“There are a lot of child care bills that have been introduced as of late, by Republicans and Democrats alike,” Carfagna said, “And we're going to get behind pretty much all of them.”

Aside from SB 237 and HB 610, several recently introduced one-party proposals include:

  • GOP-led House Bills 576, 577 and 578, offering various tax credits
  • GOP-led House Bill 580, extending who is eligible to get public assistance
  • Democrat-led House Bill 570, giving child care workers free child care

Copyright 2024 The Statehouse News Bureau