Statehouse Update: Improving Pre-K Public Funding
Week six is in the books, and many committees have met for the last time until bills cross over after halftime. If a bill does not get passed out of committee by Tuesday, for the House, or Thursday, for the Senate, it can be considered dead. Remember, however, it is not uncommon to see “dead” language resurface into other bills later in session. We will keep a close eye out. Here’s where Aspire’s top issues stand going into the final week before halftime.
Child Care / Early Childhood Education
We have reported a lot on SB 375 which raises the income eligibility limit for grants under the On My Way Pre-K program (program) to 260% of the federal poverty level. It passed out of committee unanimously and was reassigned to the Senate Appropriations committee but is not moving. Also not moving but we reported a lot on is SB 186, which establishes a state tax credit to employers that help pay for their employees’ child care expenditures.
However, we have not reported much on education bill 1591. We are pleased to report we expect this bill to be amended in committee this week to include non-fiscal language from SB 307, which also deals with the On My Way Pre-K (OMW) program.
The amendment to 1591 is expected to end the pilot program provision from OMW, making it a permanent program, and clarifies the list of eligible providers to include K-12 schools that operate preschool programs. We also expect the amendment to include a provision about incentivizing providers who increase wages for employees who are obtaining additional credentials.
These are all positive steps forward to help with affordable access to quality Pre-K and workforce support for this critical industry. We are actively tracking and testifying in support of these measures.
We have been supporting SB 339, which establishes a tax credit for a contribution to an affordable housing organization. The bill was amended last week to drastically lower the maximum amount of tax credits that can be awarded from $7.5 million to $100,000, and some other procedural changes. However, this is still adequate to support community level contributions and a good start.
It passed out of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee unanimously and saw no changes during second reading on the Senate floor. It is eligible for a final third reading vote this week.
Update on Small Business Tax Bill
Two weeks ago, we alerted you to SB 2 which allows partnerships, sole proprietorships, LLCs, and S-Corporations to make an election to pay income tax at the entity-level based on each owner's aggregate share of adjusted gross income, instead of passing the tax liability down to the shareholders individual tax return. This bill sailed unanimously out of the Senate Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy and Senate floor.
Last week, SB 2 passed unanimously out of the House Ways and Means committee and then passed the House floor without any amendments on second reading, and it is eligible for a final third reading vote this week. From there, the bill will be fast-tracked to the Governor’s desk for a signature, as supporters are looking to allow businesses to use this option for this year’s tax season.