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Alabama lawmakers approve tax breaks for worker child care

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Alabama lawmakers gave final approval to legislation to provide state tax breaks to businesses that help their employees afford childcare. The Alabama Senate voted 31-0 for the bill that now goes to Governor Kay Ivey for her signature. Supporters said that childcare costs are a barrier for many parents considering returning to the workforce. House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels said the goal is to help families afford childcare and to help businesses that are struggling to find workers.

"It gets workers back into the workforce," said Republican Senator Garlan Gudger of Cullman during the Senate debate.

The bill would set aside $15 million in tax credits that could be claimed by companies that provide childcare stipends, on-site day care or reserved spots at licensed facilities. The tax credit program would begin in 2025 and end on Dec. 31, 2027. After evaluating the cost and effectiveness of the program, lawmakers could choose to extend the tax credit.

The proposal also would provide tax credits and grants to providers, with incentives aimed at expanding the availability of care and improving quality.

The legislation would provide up to $25,000 in yearly tax credits to childcare providers who participate in the Department of Human Resources' Quality Rating Improvement System, which provides ratings to programs that meet defined program standards. That part of the program would cost up to $5 million per year.

It would also provide $5 million in grants that nonprofit providers, including church facilities, could seek to help improve quality or expand capacity.

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