TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore M. Teresa Ruiz, Senator Sandra Cunningham and Senator Nicholas Scutari which would permit using campaign funds to pay for child care in certain instances, passed the Senate today.
“This bill strives to help parents avoid the difficult decision of juggling childcare and running for public office to serve their communities,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “With this bill parents, especially women who often take on more of the childcare responsibilities, will have the support they deserve to make the dream of running for office a reality. It is an honor to sponsor legislation removing an obstacle that may impede some women from running for office. The more inclusive and diverse the individuals sitting around our policy decision-making tables, the better the outcomes are for the public.”
The bill, S-4037, would permit candidates and public office holders to use campaign funds to pay for child care expenses incurred as the direct result of campaign activity and public office activity.
“When we have a more diverse group of people at the decision-making table, the outcomes are better for everyone. For many working class New Jerseyans, especially women, running for office is simply not financially possible,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “This bill would ease the burden, enabling more people to fulfill their dreams of running for office.”
In May 2018, the Federal Election Commission ruled federal candidates could use campaign funds to pay for childcare costs resulting from time spent running for office. This bill would codify the FEC ruling for State and local candidates and expand it to apply while in office as well.
“It is an honor to sponsor legislation removing a barrier that may stop some women from running or holding office. Expanding this to the State and local level will prevent parents from having to choose between serving the community and caring for their children,” said Senator Scutari (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “Under this bill, we will see a more diverse group of individuals giving a voice to groups that were previously underrepresented in our public offices.”
Since the FEC ruling, Utah and Colorado have passed laws to allow candidates to spend campaign contributions on childcare needs that exist due to campaign obligations. Minnesota allows both candidates and officeholders to use campaign funds for childcare.
The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 33-0.