House DFL proposes $500M investment in child care, other early childhood initiatives

This week, the Minnesota House DFL announced its plan for significant new investment in early childhood programs that they want to pass this legislative session.

With the state budget forecast showing a $1.2 billion surplus for the rest of this biennium, Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) and Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL-St. Paul), chair of the Early Childhood Finance and Policy Division, presented a plan to invest $500 million of the surplus in this area. The bulk of the plan, $380 million, would be split between the state’s two child care subsidy programs.

In addition to the impact that the $380 million would have on families in Greater Minnesota that qualify for those programs, three additional investments would have direct impacts on our communities. The proposal calls for an additional $5 million for the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations to continue their work in Greater Minnesota communities to expand child care provider support services. A second investment would add $10 million to the DEED Child care Grant Program. In the last round of grants from this program approved in the fall, almost 70 percent of the funds went to communities and programs in Greater Minnesota. Finally, the House proposes allocating $5 million to First Children’s Finance, an organization that works closely with child care providers and communities to build sustainable child care businesses. First Children’s Finance is a close partner of the Minnesota Initiative Foundations in their work as well.
This proposal, although likely to pass the House, faces challenges from the GOP-controlled Senate. The Senate human services committees spent considerable time last session investigating the state’s subsidy program, Child Care Assistance Program, and its unknown if there would be support for committing significant funds to the program until their inquiry is complete. Additionally, there is uncertainty as to what the Senate GOP plans to do with the surplus and if it will be willing to pass any supplemental budget bills this session.