Our Opinion: Child care and taxes are challenging issue

We do not envy our state legislators as they attempt to resolve one of the most difficult problems confronting Pennsylvania’s workforce — the shortage and expense of child care.

The state House Finance Committee met recently, according to a report by The Center Square to discuss the feasibility of employer tax credits to offer employees child care benefits.

We understand and sympathize with the desire to incentivize child care benefits. A system that shares the costs will allow workplaces to hire and promote more completely based on merit, rather than having strong candidates exit the pool of potential employees because they can’t have confidence their children will have the necessary supervision.

As Center Square reporter Christina Lengyel noted, child care providers have about 4,000 vacancies throughout the state. The shortages in staffing, of course, only ramp up pressure on the cost of securing child care. Experts who spoke to the committee hearing said they believe the tax credits could help families pay for the expense and help child care providers offer the more competitive wages necessary to reduce the scope of vacancies.

But we also recognize that the state government spends too much. We recognize that under Gov. Josh Shapiro’s proposed budget it will spend even more. This past and present of excessive spending are impediments to delivering any tax relief to Pennsylvanians.

And we understand the argument that tax relief should be pursued for the benefit of as many people as possible — by lowering tax rates rather than creating loopholes and tax breaks for smaller categories of Pennsylvanians. We respect the fear that such an approach pits taxpaying Pennsylvanians against each other.

As we’ve editorialized in the past, we still firmly believe a critical step on this issue and on many issues confronting Pennsylvania is to rein in the excessive spending.

Beyond that, we hope our state lawmakers are able, after careful and thorough deliberation, to find the right balance between the needs of working Pennsylvanians with young children and the needs of Pennsylvanians as a whole.


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