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Celebrating a tax win for New Mexico’s kids and families


As mamas, we know that having kids changes how you see the world. Figuring out how to keep your little ones safe and healthy, so they can grow up to thrive, is a worry that doesn’t go away. Finding access to high-quality care for our children has felt nearly impossible, and for too many, affording that care truly is impossible. Yet parents across New Mexico deserve peace of mind, and all our kids deserve a bright start in life. 

In the recent legislative session, we just made that a little easier. After nearly six years of advocacy, we exempted the gross receipts tax on child care, for those eligible for state child care assistance contracts and state pre-K services. This small but important change to our state’s tax code is a win for New Mexico’s families.

Typically, businesses pass GRT down to their consumers. Yet many child care providers have been shouldering the cost of this tax because the families they serve simply couldn’t afford it. The GRT has been a significant operating expense, particularly for those serving our most in-need communities. For many providers, this expense has limited their ability to recruit and retain staff or purchase classroom supplies. Other providers have had to pass this tax on to families who are already struggling to make ends meet.

By creating opportunities for parents to pursue further education or participate in the workforce and support their families, childcare providers play a critical role in our economy. A vast and still growing body of research also shows that child care providers play a pivotal role in children’s development and wellbeing — with kids who get quality early childhood care having better outcomes throughout their entire lives. 

But it’s also important that we support and trust the people who provide the child care that we all depend upon. Many of those caring for our kids and helping to power our economy are women of color and, unfortunately, all too often these voices are excluded from the spaces where policy decisions are made. 

Our capital can be a challenging place to navigate, especially for newcomers to state politics. Not everyone in Santa Fe was ready to shift tax policy on the insight shared by child care educators who own these small businesses. For decades, too many well-intentioned policy makers have been comfortable assuming they know best for New Mexicans. But representation and perspective matters, so we kept showing up, asking for meetings and creating spaces for parents to speak for themselves.  

Year after year, as New Mexicans elected more lawmakers who reflect the diversity of our state, we built more bipartisan support for eliminating this GRT. Pragmatic legislators holding new leadership, including Indigenous people, women of color and working parents themselves were listening and trusted our knowledge of the issues impacting the communities we come from. 

Given how essential childcare is to the wellbeing of our communities as a whole, we are incredibly proud that New Mexico is becoming a leader in early childhood care and education. We can do right by New Mexicans when we center the expertise of everyday leaders that hold our most challenging issues close to heart. Now with this tax reform, alongside other initiatives to bring our values closer to reality, high-quality child care will be within reach for more kids and families that need it. 

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Representative Lara Cadena, D-Mesilla, is vice chair of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee. Angela Garcia is the owner of The Toy Box Early Learning Child Care Centers in Las Cruces and co-founder of Full Circle Children, Family, and Educator Services.

tax win, New Mexico tax, gross receipt tax, child care assistant