New York political candidates will soon be able to use their campaign funds for child care expenses that arise on the campaign trail and in office under a new law that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed Tuesday.
Cuomo said the law, which takes effect in 60 days, will “empower more parents ― and mothers in particular ― to seek public office to ensure the decision makers in Albany reflect the people they are elected to represent.”
The bill, which applies to state and local candidates only, passed the state Assembly and Senate in June.
New York will join 11 other states in making candidacy more accessible for parents, especially mothers, who are disproportionately impacted by child care responsibilities. Utah in March became the first state to enact a similar bill, followed by Colorado in May.
“This new law allows more young parents to run for public office, and we need their voices and experiences serving on local village and town boards, city councils, county legislatures, and state government,” Sen. Shelley Mayer (D), who introduced the bill in the state Senate, said in a statement. She called Tuesday “a historic day for parents, particularly mothers, across New York State.”
Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D), who sponsored the bill in her chamber, said the legislation will help “level the playing field,” giving people with children “a fair opportunity to run for office.”
“No one brave enough to seek office should have to bow out of their campaign because they can’t afford childcare.” Rosenthal said in a statement
In 2018, the Federal Election Commission ruled for the first time that a candidate, then-congressional candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley in New York, could use campaign funds for child care purposes. Grechen Shirley’s win inspired mothers in other states to urge their election officials to establish where child care expenses stood under campaign finance laws, HuffPost previously reported.
Last week, the FEC ruled similarly for M.J. Hegar, a U.S. Senate candidate in Texas.
“Taking time off from work to run for office is expensive, and if we want more working parents in office who will fight for affordable childcare, paid family leave, and other family-friendly policies, we need to allow candidates to use their campaign funds on childcare,” Grechen Shirley said. Grechen Shirley is the founder of Vote Mama US, a political action committee that supports progressive mothers who are political candidates.
The legislation will encourage more women to run for office, according to Rosenthal.
“By making child care an allowable campaign expense, we pay more than mere lip service to that reality, and begin dismantling some of the institutional barriers that women and mothers continue to face,” Rosenthal said.