Gov. Walz pushes for using surplus to supplement childcare services

With two weeks left in the legislative session, top Democrats joined childcare providers in the Capitol rotunda Monday to push for affordable childcare.

Governor Tim Walz addressed the crowd of mostly children, who were at the Capitol for a Child Care Day of Action. The governor is proposing a $1.8 billion investment in early childhood education - the largest investment in childcare in state history.

"We have the capacity to do it," said Gov. Walz. "There’s plenty of surplus for a win-win-win. We don’t need to pit one against the other."

Walz is proposing using part of the $9.25 billion budget surplus to supplement childcare providers, and broaden eligibility for family assistance.

Daycare owner Kristinah Dvorak says while she receives state and federal funding, she is struggling to hire and retain qualified workers at the rates she can afford.

"We can’t ask the teachers to make less, and we can’t charge the parents more because then they leave us because they can’t afford us," said Dvorak. 

Dvorak is asking legislators to expand eligibility requirements for financial assistance, so middle-income families can also receive help. She also wants to see a monthly stipend program put in place during the pandemic continue, so she can pay her employees fair wages.

"We just can’t compete with some of the other employers out there with starting wages," said Dvorak.

Some Republicans have said rather than increase spending, they would like to see broad tax cuts for families aimed at helping ease the burden of rising inflation.