Texas Voters Support Tax Exemption for Childcare Facilities
By Mariela Villela
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas – Nearly two-thirds of Texans voted this month for Proposition 2, which exempts childcare facilities from paying property tax. Local governments must now decide if they will grant property tax relief.
Proposition 2 states, “Proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing a local option exemption from ad valorem taxation by a county or municipality of all or part of the appraised value of real property used to operate a child-care facility.”
State Sen. Royce West, a democrat from Dallas, sponsored Proposition 2 and said the cost of childcare continues to rise. He hopes the property tax exemption for eligible child care facilities will help facilities better utilize their money elsewhere.
“It’s going to take the advocacy of childcare groups working with their local elected officials and making certain that they get the benefit of this constitutional amendment,” West said.
“Every little bit helps.”
For a childcare facility to be exempt, it must be part of the Texas Rising Star Program and at least 20% of enrolled children must receive subsidies or scholarships from the Texas Workforce Commission. Proposition 2 will not apply to home-based childcare facilities.
Jaime Cano, a co-director of Escuelita del Alma, said planned expansions of I-35 will require the Spanish immersion daycare to relocate. In the face of the school’s impending move, Cano said the daycare won’t continue to participate in the Texas Rising Star Program because the staff doesn’t have the bandwidth to handle some of the program’s administrative requirements.
While it won’t help his facility, Cano said he hopes Proposition 2 will help others.
“We are very excited that it did pass because there are many centers that are going to continue to receive that supplemental funding,” Cano said.
Cody Summerville, the executive Director for the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children, said even though Proposition 2 is a victory, labor shortages in childcare are leading to a shortage of childcare within communities. He said child care facilities are struggling with recruitment and retention of teachers primarily due to low wages.
“Early childhood educators and child care programs here in Texas [pay] on average $12 an hour, with little to no benefits,” Summerville said.
Leah Rodriguez said she was left scrambling to find a daycare when her current one closed, and was relieved when she was able to enroll her 2-year-old daughter in Escuelita del Alma.
“They gave us six months’ notice. Unfortunately, the waitlists in Austin are long,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said having a reliable childcare facility provides a support system.
“I need this childcare spot,” she said. “I don’t have a lot of family in Austin to help out. It’s a rock.”
Proposition 2 goes into effect in January.