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Child care subsidy cut in compromise

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River Falls, 54022

River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

The state would fully fund a child care subsidy for needy families under a compromise that cleared the Legislature's budget panel Tuesday.

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However, to get there lawmakers had to cut several new welfare programs that Gov. Doyle wanted.

The plan that lawmakers from both parties agreed to would spend $70 million more than the governor had budgeted for child care subsidies.

Their version of the budget would also keep the subsidy open to more parents, whereas Doyle wanted to focus it more on the poorest families.

Kitty Rhoades, R-Hudson, finance committee co-chair, says lawmakers decided they wanted to prioritize this program before they spent any money on new welfare benefits.

Rhoades says it's a step forward in maintaining the commitments made to the providers, keeping the focus on keeping people at work and admitting that they had to take some tough steps to "fill the hole" that was left here.

In the process, lawmakers slashed extra welfare funding Doyle set aside for pregnant women and for poor people who take care of newborn babies.

They also got rid of Doyle's proposed statewide rating system for child care centers.

Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, fought back tears as she told her colleagues that they were underestimating the number of Wisconsin residents who will need government help in the coming year.

Taylor says while the state has to live within its means and prioritize, she says those affected turn to the state because they are in desperate need.

Still, Taylor voted for the plan along with all but two lawmakers on the budget panel. She says the good parts of this compromise outweigh the bad, namely its investment in child care and a new incentive program to get unemployed people back to work.

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