(The Center Square) – Would more women run for office if they could use campaign funds to pay for childcare and elder home care?
State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, said that some people who want to run for office don't have the financial wherewithal to cover child care and elder home care expenses.
Bush sponsored SB 536 to expand the use of political campaign funds to cover childcare and elder home care expenses. The bill advanced out of the Senate Executive committee in mid-March. It looks like a good bet to be passed by the full state legislature this session.
State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, cast the lone "no" vote in the Executive Senate committee.
Syverson said that most people who donate to campaigns are making donations in order to help the candidate get their message out – not to subsidize their childccare and elder care expenses.
“What message does it send, both to the public and to donors, that the money that is being contributed is being used for personal use?” Syverson said. "How can elected officials explain why they are voting to give a special benefit to candidates and elected officials?"
Voters are struggling each month to pay for their own child care. Yet this bill says that elected officials don’t have to pay for it, Syverson said.
Syverson said he believes his fellow Senate committee members voted for the bill because they are afraid that voting against it would make them seem like they were “anti-working women.” Syverson says he supports working women.
“I want to send a message to all working women who struggle that paying for child care is difficult and a big item in a family budget. Why should politicians get an easy pass while those that elect us continue to struggle?” Syverson said. “We should not be taking advantage of anything when those who elect us don’t get the same benefit.”
The issue now goes to the state House of Representatives, where members must decide whether or not to advance the legislation. Last year, the House declined to take up a similar bill.
Syverson predicted that this year will be different. He expects SB 536 to succeed in the full legislature this year. He said that legislators who decide to vote to pass the legislation will eventually have to explain their votes to their constituents.