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Missouri Amendment 1: What to know about the child care tax breaks ballot question

Myron McCant is the CEO of KD Academy in Kansas City, Missouri. Mr. McCant and his wife were recipients of the CCED Grant, a taxpayer funded grant that was established with the intent to provide economic developement to the East side of Kansas City.
Dominick Williams
/
Flatland
If Missouri voters approve Amendment 1, the General Assembly could pass legislation that would exempt child care providers from paying taxes on real and personal property.

On August 6, Amendment 1 will ask Missourians to amend the state constitution to allow the General Assembly to pass a property tax exemption for child care providers.

Missouri voters will weigh in on Aug. 6 on whether to give property tax exemptions to child care centers when they cast ballots on Amendment 1.

As the state looks to address its chronic child care provider shortage, lawmakers have looked to tax exemptions as incentives for opening child care centers — even if that cuts into the tax base local governments rely on.

Amendment 1 would ask Missourians to amend the state constitution to allow the General Assembly to pass a property tax exemption for child care providers.

If passed, the General Assembly could pass legislation that would exempt child care providers from paying taxes on personal property. Limited numbers are available on how much the tax exemptions would cost cities, counties, schools and other parts of local government that depend on property taxes. The state’s Blind Pension Fund could lose an estimated $400,000 a year.

Amendment 1 on the Missouri primary election ballot would allow the Missouri General Assembly to pass a property tax exemption for child care facilities. Check out the KC Voter Guide.

Kansas City told lawmakers that the proposal would have an unknown financial impact on the city, while a community college in St. Charles County estimated that the proposal would hurt its revenues.

Tackling the state’s child care provider shortage has been a bipartisan priority in Jefferson City. Lawmakers tried for years to pass plans that would give tax breaks to providers.

Lawmakers see Amendment 1 as one path to cutting into the child care shortage in Missouri.

Missouri’s child care shortage

Missouri is taking an approach similar to Texas and Florida, which have both passed tax exemptions for child care centers.

A 2023 investigation from the Missouri Independent and MuckRock found that almost half of all Missouri children 5 and under, or about 202,000 kids, live in child care deserts.

In some Missouri ZIP codes, there are more than 20 children for every available seat in a child care facility.

Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis published in 2022 found that more than two-thirds of households with young children have all parents in the household in the labor force.

A Missouri Chamber of Commerce survey in 2023 found 80% of its members said the expense and difficulty of finding child care keeps a significant number of Missourians out of the workforce.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation authored a 2021 study that concluded a lack of child care costs Missouri’s economy$1.35 billion annually, including $280 million in lost tax revenue.

The survey found that families paid an average of $656 per month for child care. And access to early childhood education programs is limited. The Office of Head Start’s performance report found that early Head Start programs, which serve children under 3 who are in poverty, reached only 7% of eligible Missourians.

This story was originally published on The Beacon, a fellow member of the KC Media Collective.

Meg Cunningham is The Beacon’s Missouri Statehouse reporter.
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