Republicans, Gov. Evers split on child care funding after special session

NOW: Republicans, Gov. Evers split on child care funding after special session

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A special session call from Gov. Tony Evers to fund child care centers and the workforce did not end like previous ones after Republican lawmakers left the door open to revisiting the issue.

On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled Legislature gaveled into session and then adjourned without taking any votes on Evers' $1 billion proposal. However, they did not gavel out -- a move that would give lawmakers the option to consider Evers plan, make changes to it, or craft their own at a later date.

A majority of the 12 special sessions Evers has called previously on issues such as gun control, health care,abortion rights, and school funding were immediately rejected by Republicans within seconds.

In total, Evers proposed spending $1 billion that would be dispersed to day care centers, workforce training, and other proposals to help train the next generation of workers.

Some of Evers' measures included $340 million to extend the pandemic-era programs Child Care Counts program, $60 million to address shortages in the healthcare industry and nearly $200 million for a new engineering building at UW-Madison.

Instead, Republicans plan to put forth their own legislation to address workforce issues. Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) said it would go through the committee process.

“Senate Republicans will continue to stand with Wisconsin families that are struggling with inflation by presenting a workforce development proposal to the Governor," LeMahieu said.

Evers, who visited a day care center in Fitchburg during the day, said he wasn't surprised Republicans rejected the plan.

"The Republicans said stick it, and I find that to be outrageous behavior," Evers said. "They think they know better than the people who are working in these organizations and I think that's pretty rude, and I think it's anti-democratic."

When asked, Evers said he hoped to meet with GOP leaders over their plans, but added, "they made it clear they don't care about it and don't care about child care."

This month, Republicans did pass a package of bills that would ease regulations at day care centers they say would provide more flexibility to providers. Evers has said those proposals are insufficient because they don’t pump funding resources into the industry.

The Cost of Child Care

A new report found the cost of child care in Wisconsin can be more expensive than college tuition, an average between 18 to 36% of a family's income.

Forward Analytics, a research firm at the Wisconsin Counties Association, found that the cost of two children in day care costs more than $25,000 a year compared to $22,000 tuition at UW-Madison.

The study was released hours before Evers special session.

Low wages and lack of staff were cited as the main driving force behind a rise in child care costs. The number of childcare workers has declined to 26% from 2010 to 2022, according to the report.

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