Categories
Audio Sources - Full Text Articles

Senator Patty Murray says it’s impossible to keep the economy growing without affordable, well-paid childcare

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) speaks at an event to reintroduce the Child Care for Working Families Act, at the U.S. Capitol on April 27, 2023 in Washington, DC. The legislation would provides funds for child care and early learning programs for low to moderate income families.U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) speaks at an event to reintroduce the Child Care for Working Families Act, at the U.S. Capitol on April 27, 2023 in Washington, DC. The legislation would provides funds for child care and early learning programs for low to moderate income families.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

  • Senator Patty Murray is once again pushing legislation to make childcare affordable and accessible.
  • Under her proposal, costs would be capped, new centers could open, and workers would earn more.
  • She told Insider the growth of the US economy relies on workers having access to childcare.

Senator Patty Murray says the growth of our economy relies on access to childcare.

“We are going to continue to have workforce shortages,” the Washington Democrat told Insider. “We’re going to continue to see it impossible for us to keep our economy growing.”

Murray, alongside Democrats like Rep. Bobby Scott, has introduced — again — legislation that would bring down child care costs and up wages for providers. Under the Child Care for Working Families Act, families’ childcare costs would be capped at 7% of their income, and families that earn under 85% of their state’s median would pay nothing at all. The legislation would also provide funding for opening new centers, better support for care during off-hours, and wages for teachers comparable to their peers in elementary schools.

“Childcare was a crisis long ago, but it was a silent crisis,” Murray told Insider. For years, even as America’s childcare grew increasingly expensive and out of reach, parents were worried they’d jeopardize their careers, she said. Now, though, it’s clear that childcare is an economic necessity.

“Employers need workers, and they know that unless we fix the childcare system, they won’t have them,” Murray said. “So this is an economic crisis that is now hitting everyone. People are much more vocal about it, which is helpful.”

For parents and workers, it’s no secret that American childcare is ailing. Several teachers told Insider that working in the field is essentially a labor of love, with many either relying on higher-earning partners or extreme cost-saving measures to stay afloat. That creates a vicious cycle where childcare workers leave their roles behind, care centers struggle, and parents bear the brunt of less availability and higher costs — all things that Murray’s proposal intends to address. 

At the same time, costs are untenable for both center owners and parents, and childcare deserts remain rampant. Research from the Department of Labor’s US Women’s Bureau finds that childcare is unaffordable almost everywhere in the US, and, in places where it’s more costly, fewer women are employed. At minimum, families put 8% of their income towards childcare costs, per the DOL report; under Murray’s legislation, that percentage would be capped at 7%.

“Women are in the workforce to provide for their families,” Murray said. “There are women who don’t have two income families. There are families that have changed in different ways. Everybody needs childcare.”

But a large social spending proposal is an uphill battle in a House controlled by Republicans eager to cut spending, and a razor-thin Democratic majority in the Senate that already has squashed ambitious federal proposals for paid leave and affordable childcare. House Republicans have already passed a debt ceiling package that would strengthen work requirements on welfare programs and ban student-loan forgiveness, among a bevy of other cuts. 

“What they’ve passed — and what they’re talking about — is theories that they’ve liked to throw out there for a long time, ten second sound bites of we will cut childcare, we will make it hard to get SNAP, we will do all these things,” Murray said. “And they’ve never lived the consequences of that, which are severe.”

Murray pointed to the outcome of Roe v. Wade as one example where politicians and the country have felt the consequences. She said that her legislation is meant to get ahead of that, and help the other side of the aisle see a way to support both the economy and families. 

And the economic consequences could be dire if childcare is left unaddressed, according to Murray, who said “we will cut our own throats in terms of our economy growing.”

Read the original article on Business Insider
WP Radio
WP Radio
OFFLINE LIVE