Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law Assembly Bill 220, which will now allow candidates running for office in California to use campaign funds to pay for child care costs.
AB 220 covers the federal, state, and local levels of elections, and specifies that child care can be paid for with campaign funds as long as the candidate in question in ‘engaging in political activities’.
Assemblymembers Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), Lorena Gonzalez (D- San Diego), and Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) authored the bill. All three have said that support of the bill came after an earlier Federal Election Commission measure which allows federal candidates the right to use campaign funds for child care expenses, but not state or local candidates. Many of the candidates who were also parents subsequently struggled or decided not to run because of the cost burden. For the Assembly members, the bill has become a way to encourage more parents, particularly women, to run for office.
“AB 220 will help create greater gender parity among elected officials in California and more broadly help all parents with young children seek and serve in public office by allowing the use of campaign funds for child care expenses,” said Assemblyman Bonta.
Bonta also commented on the bills’ goal of allowing more women to run for office, and cited the State Legislature figure of being comprised of 30 percent women compared to 2017 when it was only at 23 percent.
“That is a positive change,” said Assemblyman Bonta. “Yet, as we know, that number in no way represents the gender makeup of California. AB 220 removes an important barrier for people seeking to serve in office.”
The new law has received widespread support. Numerous employee organizations, counties and cities have supported the bill. Voting was also bipartisan, with only a few stray no votes coming up during Assembly and Senate voting.
The one argument against the bill came from watchdog groups who said the bill was overstepping the bounds of campaign funds should be spent.
“This bill should not have been signed,” said California state watchdog Fred Williams during an interview. “It goes against the true purpose of campaign dollars, which goes to the campaign of the person in question, not to their personal life. That’s private spending.”
AB 220, now law, is to go into effect starting with the 2020 elections.