Updated 1:20 p.m. CST
Gov. Tony Evers wants to create a new $500 tax credit to help cover family caregiver expenses, a $200 million proposal announced Tuesday that will be a part of the governor's state budget plan submitted to the Legislature next week.
The tax credit was included in budget proposals Evers announced that are targeted to help children and families, with spending on everything from child care services to Alzheimer's research.
Family care services for children through the elderly have struggled in recent years in finding enough workers, problems that have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This pandemic has laid bare lack of access and affordability in the systems we use to support the people we care about,” Evers said in a statement. "We have to do more to make sure families have quality, affordable childcare, that we’re strengthening our caregiving workforce, and investing in long-term care. These areas will be critical to our state’s economic comeback.”
The new tax credit would be part of more than $600 million Evers is proposing in new funding directed at long-term care and family caregivers. The Democratic governor also wants to raise nursing homes reimbursement rates by more than 11% each of the next two years, an increase of more than $240 million over the next two years.
Evers has been releasing bits and pieces of his budget ahead of formally delivering it to the Republican-controlled Legislature on Feb. 16. He previously announced plans to propose legalizing both recreational and medical marijuana, lowering prescription drug costs and expanding programs to benefit agriculture and rural Wisconsin.
All of his proposals must win the approval of the Republican-controlled Legislature before becoming law. The Legislature will spend the next several months rewriting Evers' budget before passing its own version in the summer, which Evers can reshape through his expansive veto powers.
The Republican co-chairs of the Legislature's budget committee, Sen. Howard Marklein and Rep. Mark Born, did not immediately return messages seeking comment on the latest proposals.
The package aiming to assist family caregivers won praise from AARP Wisconsin.
“We hope his commitment to supporting these caregivers is a bipartisan vision shared by all state legislators as they work to finalize the budget,” said Sam Wilson, director of the state group.
Evers' children and families initiatives announced Tuesday cover a wide range of proposals, including:
- $106 million in new spending to address quality, affordability, access and equity for children in the Wisconsin Shares childcare subsidy program and unsubsidized children.
- More than $3 million in funding for early childhood social emotional training and technical assistance.
- Allowing people to use Family and Medical Leave Act leave when their childcare provider is closed. His budget would also allow for family caregivers to use FMLA leave when caring for those with chronic conditions and expand the list of those covered to include grandparents, grandchildren and siblings.
- Creating a new credit for childcare expenses equal to a percentage of the federal credit.
- $77 million to support personal care services designed to help keep people at home.
- Expanding an Alzheimer's support program that assists low and middle income families.
The next budget runs from July through mid-2023.