by Kathryn Carley, Commonwealth News Service
Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a bill to allow candidates seeking state or local office to use campaign funds for child care. Child care is already covered for those seeking a federal office, but Massachusetts law considers it a “personal” expense for which campaign funds cannot be used.
Rep. Kate Lipper-Garabedian, D-Melrose, said covering child-care expenses for political candidates would help eliminate barriers for parents interested in seeking public office.
“And that’s an important voice to have at the table when we’re thinking about legislation that’s going to impact families statewide,” she said.
Lipper-Garabedian added that includes legislation aimed at improving the state’s available child-care options, which are considered some of the most expensive in the U.S. A state commission in 2020 recommended campaign funds be made available for child-care needs only when required for a candidate’s campaign activities.
Lipper-Garabedian said many lawmakers can relate to the challenge of finding consistent, affordable child care whether running a campaign or not, and are supportive of the idea. She added the bill would help diversify the pool of candidates seeking public office, and give working moms a break.
“If you can encourage, in this case perhaps, more women who would be running for office and thinking about having children at home and being able to use funding that would be provided for child-care coverage, that would be really important for opening up a pipeline,” she said.
26 states currently allow campaign funds to cover child-care expenses. House Speaker Rep. Ron Mariano, D-Quincy, has said Democrats plan to make child care a top priority this legislative session.