JEFFERSON CITY _ Working parents would get help encouraging companies to offer child care if a bill that won first-round approval in the Missouri House on Monday (May 8), survives the legislative process.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Mary Bland, would grant tax credits to businesses that provide day care for children of employees at or near the workplace. The tax credits would be for 10 percent of child care expenses.
"When a child is sick or just needs some love, a parent can run down on a lunch break or a coffee break and spend a few precious moment with their child," said Bland, D-Kansas City. "It keeps them connected, they are right there."
Currently, 2 percent of small businesses and 8 percent of large companies provide on-site or nearby child care, Bland said.
The bill, which Bland has introduced for five consecutive years, was passed by a voice vote. Last year, identical legislation died in a House committee.
With more women going to work and divorces leaving many men single fathers, this issue affects everyone, Bland said.
"People are starting to recognize that having children at work provides a safe and wholesome environment," she said.
No one spoke against the bill. However, a few legislators expressed concern about the cost of the program.
Legislative staff estimate that the tax credit program initially would cost the state $12 million in lost taxes and cost $25 million by 1988.
Rep. Harriet Brown asked Budget Committee Chairman Sheila Lumpe how staff arrived at those figures.
"Usually they assume that nearly all or a certain percentage of the businesses will take advantage of the program," said Lumpe, D-University City.
"Chances are very remote that will be the case," said Brown, R-Wentzville. "Chances are it will never cost this much.
"I urge the body to adopt this bill so more parents will be secure in the knowledge that their children are being well taken care of, there will be more productive workers and less absenteeism," she said.
One of the provisions in the bill would require businesses that offer child care to subsidize at least 25 percent of the children served by the facility.
One representative offered an amendment to take the provision out because she said it was discriminatory.
But Bland insisted it stay in.
"When I was researching day cares I found that many who need assistance can't afford the on-site day care," she said. "In many universities and corporations where they have day care, the high-salaried employees take up all the slots and the non-professional worker has to look elsewhere for day care."