Patterson still undecided on child care bill vote

U.S. Rep. Liz Patterson hasn’t yet decided how she will vote on a child care bill scheduled to come before Congress Thursday, but she strongly favors a provision in the bill to expand the Head Start as proposed by the Busy administration.

A spokesperson for Mrs. Patterson, a Spartanburg Democrat, said she will be attending committee meetings in Washington today to discuss the child care proposal that many consider one of the major pieces of legislation Congress will vote on this session.

During recent town hall meetings the congresswoman told constituents that numerous child care proposals have been presented, and she leaned toward favoring one that would include everything from the expansion of Head Start to some kind of tax credits.

The version of a child care bill coming before the House and already approved by the Ways and Means Committee would increase funding by $1.75 billion over five years under the Social Security Block Grant program, Title XX of the Social Security Act.

The bill also would substantially increase the earned-income tax credit, which provides a subsidy for low-income families with children.

The cost of the tax credit program is estimated to be $13.5 billion over a five-year period.

Greenville County Democratic and Republican officials said child care is one of the most important issues before Congress.

Billy Webster, chairman of the Greenville County Democratic Party, said the bill should bring about $33.1 million to South Carolina for early childhood education, and he personally favors the bill.

“It’s just as President Bush said at his education summit in Charlottesville recently, education is the most important thing and certainly early childhood education is most important,” Webster said.

Joey Hudson, chairman of Greenville County Republican Party, said he also considers child care one of the nation’s most important issues, but it has not been discussed by GOP officials.

Hudson said some people say the best thing to do to solve the child care problem is rather than close the doors of schools, keep them open longer and allow parents to bring their children during working hours.

“But I’m not so sure that schools should be in the child care business,” Hudson said.

While the Ways and Means proposal would eliminate the major state grant program in the Education and Labor Committee’s child care plan, it has left intact authorized funding for Head Start.