Charleston – State Senate Minority Leader Mike Woelfel of Cabell County is proposing a childcare tax credit for working families. He plans to introduce it as a bill in the 2024 legislative session, which begins in January.
Woelfel, the Democrat leader, said his legislation aims to strike at two goals: reducing child poverty and improving availability of child care.
“In West Virginia, our child poverty rate is 25% and trending upward,” said Woelfel.
“Often, it is cheaper for one parent to stay home to care for their children instead of re-entering the work force.”
He added, “Our state ranks fourth in the nation in residents living in child care facilities.
“Twenty-nine percent of our children under six are eligible for a childcare expense subsidy. However, 81% of these kids are unserved due to insufficient slots in licensed child care centers,” said Woelfel.
“Quality, affordable childcare is sparse,” the Senator declared.
Woelfel has drafted legislation that would help defray these expenses, expanding childcare options, he explained.
His bill would allow tiered tax credits, allowing low-income families to receive up to 50% of their childcare expenses back as credit on their tax returns.
“These tax credits will reduce child poverty, bolster labor force participation and grow West Virginia’s economy,” Woelfel said.
“The bill is grounded in Adam Smith’s vision of the ‘invisible hand’ described in The Wealth of Nations, according to Woelfel.
In it, individuals who pursue self-improvement unintentionally enhance the well-being of society as a whole.
“Creating these tax credits will improve economic security for those who are in an apprenticeship, improving their education, or deterred from working by the high cost of childcare, Woelfel explained. “A collateral benefit will be enhanced economic viability for quality childcare centers. It’s win-win.”
Woelfel leads the Democrat caucus in the heavily Republican-dominated Senate.