Oregon legislative leaders are proposing a $1,000-per-child tax credit as part of their broader early childhood budget plan.

The tax credit is aimed at helping families meet rising costs of living and child care expenses, Democratic legislative leaders said in a Friday release. The tax credit, Oregon’s first, would cost $75 million, just less than half the proposed $172 million in the state’s framework for the early childhood budget.

“Oregon families are having a hard time affording basic necessities right now,” said Sen. Wlnsvey Campos, D-Aloha, co-chief sponsor of House Bill 3235. “This budget framework will provide parents the breathing room and flexibility they need to put food on the table, keep a roof over their heads and afford daily essentials.”

About 60% of Oregonians with young children spend one-fifth of their monthly income on child care, and 54% of Oregon employers say lack of child care access makes it harder to hire and retain workers, an Oregon State University study found.

“Oregon working families are being forced to make the tough choice between paying rent, groceries, or child care,” said Rep. Andrea Valderrama, D-Portland. “By investing in child care infrastructure, we are investing in children and working families and can help them meet their needs while reducing poverty at the same time.”

Besides the tax credit, the early childhood budget framework includes: 

• $50 million to build, renovate and expand child care and preschool facilities across Oregon and $5 million to provide technical assistance to access the money.

• $15 million to a program that helps parents pay for child care costs, as well as another $8 million to grow the program.

• $18.6 million for the Department of Education’s early intervention and early childhood programs for children, including those who need special education services.

Last week, the House also passed House Bill 5013, which sets a $1.8 billion budget for the new Department of Early Learning and Care to start its work.

“As a pediatrician and a mom, I have seen how important it is for families to have access to the resources and child care they need during their kids’ formative years,” said Rep. Lisa Reynolds, D-Portland and chair of the House Committee on Early Childhood and Human Services. “That’s why we need to focus on stable, sustainable funding streams for this programming and the agencies supporting it.” 

The state’s lack of available child care costs Oregon an estimated $2.15 billion annually from decreased employee productivity, lost wages and increased reliance on public assistance programs, according to a report by the Oregon Child Care Research Partnership

Oregon Capital Chronicle

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Lynne Terry for questions: info@oregoncapitalchronicle.com. Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

Ben Botkin covers justice, health and social services issues for the Oregon Capital Chronicle. He has been a reporter since 2003, when he drove from his Midwest locale to Idaho for his first journalism job. He has written extensively about politics and state agencies in Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. Most recently, he covered health care and the Oregon Legislature for The Lund Report.