ALBANY – New York will allow candidates for state and local office to use campaign contributions to pay for child care under a measure signed Tuesday by the state’s Democratic governor.
Under the rule, child care expenses incurred during a campaign or an elected leader’s official duties can be claimed as a campaign expense. The change takes effect in 60 days.
Supporters say the change will empower more parents — and especially mothers — to seek elected office. Currently, women hold about a third of all state legislative seats and two of four statewide elected offices in New York.
“Child care expenses are a heavy burden for many families across the state, and these expenses should not prohibit qualified parents from seeking public office,” said the bill’s sponsor in the state Senate, Yonkers Democrat Shelley Mayer.
The bill’s passage in Albany came after a female congressional candidate on Long Island, Liuba Grechen Shirley, convinced federal election officials last fall to allow her to use campaign funds to pay for child care.
“Here’s to more Mamas running in New York!” Grechen Shirley tweeted Tuesday, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he had signed the bill into law.
While Grechen Shirley lost her bid to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Peter King, her successful push before the FEC helped to inspire legislators in several states. Bills similar to the one in New York were introduced in California, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Colorado and other states. Utah was the first to pass such a law earlier this year.