HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut has now become the 13th state in the nation to give parents who want to run for state elected office more access to a seat at the table by allowing campaign funds to pay for childcare.
The genesis of the law came from Democrat Caitlin Clarkson Pereira of Fairfield. She ran for the 132nd Assembly seat in 2018 but lost to the Republican incumbent.
During her run, Clarkson Pereira gained national attention when she asked the State Elections Enforcement Commission to allow the Citizen’s Election Grant Program to pay for childcare.
With this newly-signed law, the SEEC must now change its rules.
State Senator Mae Flexer is a new mom. Her daughter, Rose, was in her arms in the Senate chamber on the final day of the legislative session.
State Senator Flexer (D-District 29) sums it up like this: “We need more parents of young children running for office.”
Governor Ned Lamont signed the law on Tuesday. The policy allows parents running for state elected office to use campaign funds to pay for childcare up to a certain limit.
Governor Lamont dismissed his critics. “Some of you say ‘you’re so woke,’ and ‘what’s all this family-friendly stuff and affirmative action and equity? That’s nice.’ You are a lousy leader if you do what the CEOs in this country do for the last 100 years.”
Lamont says he won’t stand for that old mentality.
State Representative Dorinda Borer (D-District 115) knows first hand. “It’s very difficult to juggle those priorities. When you are running for office you’re spending your time caring for your child and get on the phone with a voter or hit doors. Voters deserve your undivided attention.”
Congresswoman Johanna Hayes was one of the first federal candidates in Connecticut to use the money for childcare.
The federal election commission allows it at the national level, but there was never a state law.
Sarah Hague, the political director of the Vote Mama Foundation, says states which don’t allow the use of campaign cash for childcare create a void “depriving us of a critical voice in our government. Who will act on the issues that matter the most to families because they have lived them?”
Vote Mama is a political action committee. They track how many parents are in Congress and it turns out there are more dads than moms.
It’s that way in our state, too.
The Connecticut General Assembly is only one-third female. The Council on Women and Girls says this law will change that.
“We have to take that moment in time to stand up and say ‘this is wrong and we’re gonna fight it,” adds, State Sen. Marilyn Moore (D-Bridgeport).
The legislation also requires diversity on the states’ 160 boards and commissions by 2026.
State Representative Kate Farrar from the 20th District which includes West Hartford says, “Our talent pool needs to be really harnessed and encourage folks to really be a part of our boards and commissions.”
Connecticut is the first state in the nation with a Citizens’ Election Program to pass this kind of law.
By 2023, Vote Mama Foundation has a goal of getting every state in the country to pass a campaign cash childcare law.