Next month, voters in Texas will be asked to decide whether certain child care centers should be allowed to receive a property tax exemption, giving some relief to a sector that has seen increased financial pressure in recent years.
Proposition 2 is one of 14 constitutional amendments on the Nov. 7 ballot. If approved, local governments would have the option to implement a tax exemption of at least 50% for child care centers.
This could help facilities provide competitive wages and affordable tuition rates for families, according to advocates.
Lina Ruiz, who covers early childhood education for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, said that if passed, this measure could offer some much-needed relief to a troubled sector.
“It’s been a broken system for a while, even before COVID-19,” she said. “These child care providers did get more revenue after COVID-19 happened because of federal pandemic relief money. So now that that money is going away, this is an opportunity for them to have another form of financial relief. Well, you know, being on shaky ground to begin with.”
Advocates in the world of child care say this property tax relief would be a good first step but not a cure-all, Ruiz said.
“They’re hopeful that it will pass and hopefully it will save some child care providers from going out of business because it is predicted that some in the state of Texas — and even nationwide — might have to close their doors because of the loss of the federal pandemic relief money,” she said. “But there’s still a long way to go as far as remedying this completely.”
Ruiz said there is not an organized group in opposition to this constitutional amendment. However, there is some concern about the lost property tax revenue.
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“My story does not include a specific voice because I frankly could not find one. I will say that the Texas Tribune, they did a story covering all of the propositions, and they note that critics say that the issue that they have is the loss of revenue that local governments will no longer have if this were to pass,” she said. “So that is the question that is to be answered: If a local government approves this tax exemption, then how are they going to reallocate their budget? How are they going to balance their budget to account for that loss?”
At this point, it is hard to know if this will pass next month, Ruiz said.
“The legislation that preceded this proposition did pass along party lines,” she said. “As far as how Texas voters feel about child care, we’re in unprecedented territory. This is the first time that they’re going to be voting on child care tax exemptions. We’re not sure. But experts say that they are pretty hopeful and positive looking at the election next month.”
Early voting starts Monday, Oct. 23 and runs through Nov. 3. Election Day is Nov. 7.