Much of the focus during prime election years like this one is at the top of the ticket. There is talk about swing states and the importance of getting out the vote in those places. But showing up at the ballot box is paramount no matter where one lives because important decisions that affect the livelihoods of everyday Americans are made at all different levels of government.
State governments, for instance, make funding decisions on issues such as child care that impact millions of workers. And many times, they are dropping the ball and leaving many low-wage workers without childcare options. That’s not good for hard-working Americans or their families who are doing their best to support themselves.
In Louisiana, less than 30 percent of families that need childcare assistance actually receive it. Thanks in part to state budget cuts, the state is considered among the worst in the nation at subsidizing early-education costs for at-need kids under four years old.
But the Gulf Coast state is far from alone. Connecticut, for example, stopped accepting new families into its child care subsidies program on Aug. 1 in an attempt to cut costs, affecting an estimated 700 families a month. Oklahoma did the same as of June 1. And Illinois in late 2015 limited new enrollees by tightening financial eligibility requirements.
Taxpayers benefit when those who are able to work do so. More dollars are collected while fewer people need to apply for social welfare programs. But if workers don’t have anyone to watch their children while they try to earn a paycheck, that’s not going to happen.
There are many elected officials who have a say in state budgets – state legislators, statewide officials and governors among them. While these races may get less attention than other November elections, they are essential to how states and communities operate. They cannot be overlooked.
So even if the media might be telling voters in Louisiana, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Illinois or elsewhere that their votes don’t matter, don’t believe them. Better government doesn’t begin or end with one candidate.