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South Dakota House committee calls child care bill a 'conservative solution'

A 2% property tax reduction for every child in an in-home day care would be afforded to a provider under a proposal brought by Rep. Ryan Cwach, D-Yankton.

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Rep. Ryan Cwach, D-Yankton
JOHNNY SUNDBY

PIERRE, S.D. — In a proposal deemed a "conservative solution" to the state's child care crisis, the House Taxation committee passed on an 8-2 vote a bill that would send property tax relief to some in-home day care providers.

Rep. Ryan Cwach, D-Yankton, who sponsored the bill, said unlike the federal grants authorized last week that go to licensed providers — which typically serve more children — his measure targets smaller, in-home providers.

"This is the only legislation that is currently in the chamber that seeks to address the ongoing issue of a lack of affordable child care," said Cwach. "And it may be the only conservative solution to the child care issue."

Under House Bill 1222 , an in-home provider registered with the state could apply for a 2% tax reduction for every child enrolled in care — with a cap of 20%. The tax reduction would only be eligible for three years, but Cwach said he believed the bill would incentivize young mothers or others to make it more financially attractive to enter the industry.

Two county treasurers from Rapid City and Deadwood opposed the measure in testimony, saying they saw extra legwork added to their jobs.

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Wendy Semmler, a representative from the Department of Revenue, also opposed the measure, saying it cut out unregistered day care providers from the tax benefit. Moreover, she questioned the bill setting a floor at a minimum of four children.

"We know that the children in a day care fluctuates throughout the year," said Semmler. "Who is going to be the individual who would police that child count?"

But the committee's lawmakers appeared swayed by what Rep. Greg Jamison, R-Sioux Falls, called a "creative" approach.

"We have a need," said Rep. Becky Drury, R-Rapid City. "We have people coming in with nowhere to put their children. And this might open some doors for us that would be less costly than trying to buy land, build facilities."

While there are over 73,000 children below the age of 6 in South Dakota, there are roughly only 34,000 slots for child care and early education, reports South Dakota Kids Count .

The bill now moves to the House floor.

Christopher Vondracek is the South Dakota correspondent for Forum News Service. Contact Vondracek at cvondracek@forumcomm.com , or follow him on Twitter: @ChrisVondracek .

MORE FROM CHRISTOPHER VONDRACEK:
The state's biggest political leaders have touted inbound migration, so-called "blue state refugees" who flooded South Dakota. But the biggest driver of partisan races this coming summer and fall appears to be a redistricting process, log-jamming Republicans in primaries and opening up new turf for Democrats.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Christopher Vondracek covers South Dakota news for Forum News Service. Email him at cvondracek@forumcomm.com or follow him on Twitter at @ChrisVondracek.
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