Child care stakeholders hoping for a firm commitment of state resources toward achieving universal access to affordable, high-quality care were left disappointed this week by Gov. Kathy Hochul and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
On Wednesday, Hochul, who has indicated support for universal child care, only identified $75 million toward expanding access to care in her state of the state proposal. When asked later in the week about the governor’s proposal and her own interest in investing billions of dollars into the sector, Stewart-Cousins only expressed confidence that the issue will receive a “robust discussion” and that New York should try to get federal dollars before investing its own funds toward universal access.
A spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, when asked specific policy questions about achieving universal child care in New York, responded Friday that the Assembly majority remained committed to “affordable and high-quality child care.”
Following the governor’s address to the legislature, the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy said her proposed investments in child care didn’t meet the current needs of the sector and would fall well short of funding the necessary transformation of the industry. Senate Children and Families Committee Chair Jabari Brisport, a Brooklyn Democrat with a proposal to fund universal child care access, called Hochul’s proposal “a dramatically inadequate response to the vast and worsening child care crisis.”
Stewart-Cousins, who explicitly said in remarks on Wednesday that “it’s time for us to make universal, affordable child care a reality,” declined to say that she was disappointed about Hochul’s proposal, when asked about it on The Capitol Pressroom. Instead she highlighted the growing number of voices in political leadership who believe this is an important goal to achieve.
“I think that this is an idea, frankly, whose time has come and budgets are budgets, so that’s where we get to negotiate, you know, how much those goes where and I know there will be a push to really try and lead,” she said in her interview.
Asked whether she wanted a multi-billion dollar investment in the state budget to begin to make universal child care a reality, Stewart-Cousins said, “I do want to see a path forward where, you know, it actually can be a reality.” She went on to say that she would love to be able to put billions of dollars toward child care right away, but said she wants to give the federal government an opportunity to “be helpful in creating a path forward.”
“We’d like to see state money, I’d like the federal money … I’d like to see it all,” Stewart-Cousins said.