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Missouri House passes child care tax credits, bill heads to Senate where it faces opposition

Members of the Missouri House, pictured here in Jan. 2024, voted 113-39 on Thursday to pass a series of child care tax credits. The bills now go to the Missouri Senate, where opposition is expected.
Tristen Rouse
St. Louis Public Radio
Members of the Missouri House, pictured last month, voted 113-39 on Thursday to pass a series of child care tax credits.

A set of child care tax credits for users and providers is on its way to the Missouri Senate after overwhelmingly winning House approval Thursday.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Brenda Shields, R-St. Joseph, said the credits would allow Missouri to expand child care capacity, adding: “28% of our parents have said that they have missed work for the lack of child care. Today we need to pass this bill not only for the families in our state, but for our children that deserve it.”

The House voted 113-39 for the bill. Many Republicans voted for it, but all the no votes were from GOP members.

The legislation contains three separate tax credits centered on child care.

Under the “Child Care Contribution Tax Credit Act,” a taxpayer would be able to claim a tax credit for “verified contributions to a child care provider in an amount equal to 75% of the contribution.” The credit would not be less than $100 and not more than $200,000 per tax year.

The "Employer Provided Child Care Assistance Tax Credit Act,” allows employers with two or more employees to claim a tax credit “in an amount equal to 30% of the qualified child care expenditures paid or incurred with respect to a child care facility.”

Through the "Child Care Providers Tax Credit Act," child care providers with three or more employees would be able to claim a tax credit “in an amount equal to the child care provider's eligible employer withholding tax, and may also claim a tax credit in an amount up to 30% of the child care provider's capital expenditures.”

All of the credits would expire at the end of 2030.

During his State of the State Address in January, Gov. Mike Parson singled out this legislation as something he wanted to see passed this session.

After its passage, Speaker Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres, said the House stood by Parson’s request. He also spoke on why believes some of his Republican colleagues voted against it.

“While I believe we all in the Republican Party here want to stand by children, we also want to be fiscally responsible,” Plocher said. “And I think there's some anxiety as to the fiscal components of that. But it's a good bill.”

Democrats did not speak on the floor Thursday about the bill but voted unanimously as a caucus for it.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said Democrats were excited to pass the credits.

“This is something that we've been working on for a very long time, obviously a very bipartisan supported bill,” Quade said. “So, we are happy to finally get something done out of here that's going to help everyday Missourians.”

The bill now goes to the Senate, where legislation on child care tax credits stalled last session.

Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, will sponsor the legislation on the Senate side. Shields said she isn’t concerned that Arthur is not a Republican in the GOP-dominated chamber.

“The label behind the senator’s name is not as important as the quality of the senator and how hard they work. She's very passionate about this issue, and I think she was the absolute right senator to take it,” Shield said.

Arthur said she believes there is a path forward.

“My hope is that people will put politics aside and finally do something to [help] the many, many families that are having a hard time affording child care,” Arthur said.

The legislation is likely to face opposition in the Senate from members of the Freedom Caucus.

Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, opposed Arthur’s bill last year and said the caucus hasn’t formally taken a position on the legislation yet, but he would be surprised if it wasn’t opposed.

“This idea of creating more government subsidies, and another government program as a way to solve problems, I think is just the latest and a misguided attempt by the minority to try to install government in every aspect of our lives,” Eigel said.

Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.