Is Shumlin’s Childcare Subsidy Plan Purely a Matter of Compassion?

Governor Shumlin is insisting that his plan to divert money from tax credit program to childcare subsidies is purely a matter of compassion.  Vermont Digger has the story:

As he stood at a child-care center in Burlington with three mothers under a halo of dangling mobiles, Gov. Peter Shumlin took a hard-nosed stance against legislative tinkering with his child-care proposal.

The governor said he and his administration are “bound and determined to ensure that our entire package that we proposed to the Legislature gets adopted.”

Lawmakers have criticized the plan, which calls for funding a $17 million increase in child-care subsidies with money diverted from the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), saying it pits one group of poor people against another.

“Heart,” not money, is at the core of the administration’s child-care proposal, Shumlin told reporters at a press conference Monday at Trinity Children’s Center in Burlington.

“I know it’s been suggested by some that our proposal isn’t compassionate,” Shumlin said. “I would argue that there is no greater compassion that we can have as Vermonters than taking care of all our children and giving them all a strong start.”

The governor began the press conference by running through the financial rationale for his plan.

We know that the dollars we spend on early childhood education, $1 spent now saves $7 later on down the road.”

That last assertion is questionable at best.  As David Boaz of the Cato Institute recently pointed out:

the Friday before Christmas, the administration released a large-scale study of Head Start’s effectiveness. Its conclusion: “By the end of third grade, there were very few impacts found … in any of the four domains of cognitive, social-emotional, health and parenting practices. The few impacts that were found did not show a clear pattern of favorable or unfavorable impacts for children.”

So why is the Governor involved in a bait and switch routine?  One reader of the Vermont Digger article makes to following observation:

Interesting that this decision to increase childcare subsidies would be made at the same time that S. 52 was introduced, once again trying to forcibly unionize childcare workers. This could be a real windfall for the American Federation of Teachers who are one of the primary unions demanding access to childcare subsidy funds via dues and agency fees levied on providers.

It could be said that AFT is doing okay without such access however. According to the Center For Public Integrity the president of AFT already makes over $420,000 in compensation per year. In addition according to opensecrets.org the AFT spent over a million in lobbying in 2012 plus donated $1,388,000 to Democratic candidates in 2012 ($0 to other parties).