JEFFERSON CITY, Mo — Missouri’s economy is taking a significant hit, with more than a billion dollars lost due to insufficient childcare options, according to the state’s business community. Despite this pressing issue, the General Assembly has once again failed to approve tax credits designed to support the childcare industry, a priority for Governor Mike Parson.

Missouri is facing a childcare crisis, with 94 of its 114 counties classified as childcare deserts. This shortage forces many employees to leave their jobs voluntarily due to the unavailability or high cost of childcare services.

Over the past two years, the state has lost 1,100 childcare providers, leaving some counties completely without facilities.

Governor Parson has emphasized the importance of addressing this issue, urging lawmakers to pass tax credits aimed at alleviating the problem. However, for the second consecutive year, the legislation did not pass in the Senate.

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Governor Parson expressed his frustration, stating, “It’s unfortunate there’s certain people who are holding it up for the benefit of political reasons.”

The lack of childcare is a significant concern for both employers and employees. Employers are struggling to find workers, while employees wrestle with the challenge of finding affordable and reliable childcare.

Senator Lauren Arthur, said, “Just because we didn’t pass legislation doesn’t mean that the issue has gone away; if anything, it’s going to get worse.”

Governor Parson argued that supporting the childcare industry should be a priority for state funding, said, “Of all the things we do with state money sometimes on pet projects and everything else, we ought to be able to help everyday people go to work and that’s what makes the economy grow.”

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The failure to pass the legislation has led to a blame game, with some pointing fingers at the Republican group known as the Freedom Caucus.

Critics argue that the group prioritizes political infighting over practical solutions. In contrast, members of the Freedom Caucus argue against the proliferation of tax credit programs, claiming that they have not spurred growth in Missouri.

The economic impact of the childcare shortage is substantial. According to the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the state’s economy lost over $1.3 billion last year due to the lack of childcare.

Many parents are forced to make a difficult choice: quit their jobs to care for their children or pay exorbitant amounts—ranging from $10,000 to $15,000 annually—for childcare services.

Sen. Arthur urged voters to consider this issue in upcoming elections, saying, “Ultimately, I hope voters go to the polls in August and in November and pay close attention to who is supportive of trying to make childcare more affordable and accessible, and who stood in the way of that.”

While the state budget for this year includes roughly $78 million for childcare subsidies aimed at helping low-income families, many argue that this amount is insufficient to address the broader issue. Governor Parson remains uncertain about calling a special session to tackle this problem.

As Missouri grapples with this childcare crisis, the economic and social ramifications continue to grow, underscoring the urgent need for legislative action and comprehensive solutions.