Low-income families often are faced with a hard decision—-accept a raise and lose the state subsidy they get for child care that lets them work, or refuse the raise and face loss of their jobs. Two state senators are pushing an effort to ease that predicament.

They say a single parent making seven-dollars-eight cents an hour qualifies for a state subsidy for child care. It’s a subsidy offered so that parent can have jobs. Seven-dollars-eight cents an hour is 110 percent of the poverty level.

But an extra penny an hour wipes out that subsidy and can drive up child care costs well beyond any benefit coming from the wage hike.

Senators Chris Koster of Harrisonville and Jolie Justus of Kansas City will soon bring up for debate a bill saying someone can earn thirty percent more than the federal poverty level-wage and still get full benefits.

Some critics say their proposal would create an entitlement and would need a tax increase to pay for it. Koster says those making that argument are content to say, in effect, "If I can do no more than be last in the class; if I can be no better than to be worst in the country, then for goodness sakes let me be worst."

Koster says Missouri’s "miserly" attitude on child care support ranks 50th among the states…and 51st when the District of Columbia is included.

Justus says a raise of a few cents can force women to decide whether to accept, losing her daycare subsidy, or take her child out of daycare and put the child in a more precarious situation….She says some women quit their jobs because, under present state law, they cannot afford to accept a raise.

They tried to attach their bill to an early childhood education bill last week but withdrew their amendment when the sponsor objected.

(The bill is SB260)


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