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Assembly Panel OKs Bill to Aid Child Care

Times Staff Writer

A bill to provide money for private child-care centers, which had been stalled by political friction between two Orange County lawmakers, was approved Monday by an Assembly committee.

On a 9-1 vote, the Assembly Public Investments Committee endorsed the bill, which would allow tax-exempt bond financing for new, privately operated centers.

Democratic Assemblyman Richard Robinson of Garden Grove, who chairs the committee and now supports the proposal, was earlier criticized for trying to hold up the measure, sponsored by state Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach).

Rival Measures Involved

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The measure had been stalled in Robinson’s committee since last August, when he adjourned a hearing that was about to begin on the bill. Robinson said then that Bergeson’s proposal was not eligible to be heard because of a rule barring consideration of measures that are amended late in the legislative process.

However, backers of the measure doubted Robinson’s explanation and suggested that he had more partisan reasons for holding up the bill, which was endorsed by the Orange County Commission on the Status of Women.

At the time, Democratic leaders were sponsoring rival child-care measures. Some observers suggested that Democrats--fearing that Republican Gov. George Deukmejian would veto their proposals and then sign Bergeson’s legislation--decided to block her bill.

When her bill was blocked, Bergeson said that child care “is too important to jeopardize with whatever political maneuvering is going on.”

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“I was never an enemy of the bill,” Robinson said Monday after agreeing to help shepherd the measure through the full Assembly. “The bill simply was not timely.”

Bergeson’s bill, aimed at a critical statewide shortage of child-care facilities, is designed to encourage their development by private employers by making low-interest financing available through tax-exempt bonds.

Bonds’ Uses Expanded

The state’s Industrial Development Financing Act, enacted in 1981, allows tax-exempt bonds previously available only to governments to be used for specific private purposes.

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These bonds, originally intended to spur the creation of jobs in manufacturing and processing plants in depressed urban areas, have been expanded by state legislators to assist industrial parks, hotels, motels, fast-food restaurants and shopping malls.

Bergeson’s bill would add child-care centers to the list. However, the proposal could be adversely affected by federal tax-reform proposals that, if approved, would eliminate the bonds’ tax-exempt status.


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