Ball State study grades TIFs as ineffective as economic development tools

By Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly – February 5, 2015

An analysis of tax increment financing districts in Indiana counties by Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research concluded that they are an ineffective development tool for Hoosier communities.

In fact, the CBER study found TIFs are associated with less employment, less taxable income and slightly higher tax rates and noted the process needs more stringent oversight, Ball State said in an announcement Monday.

TIF districts were created by the Indiana General Assembly in the 1980s and are run by redevelopment commissions. They were designed to allow local governments to redevelop distressed areas by making infrastructure improvements, such as new roads and sewers. TIFs provide incentives to attract businesses or help existing companies expand without tapping general funds or raising taxes.

CBER examined TIF districts in Indiana from 2003-2012, evaluating their impact on capital growth, employment and tax rates in counties.

“Overall, TIFs are not an effective economic development tool,” said CBER director Michael Hicks, who co-authored the study with Dagney Faulk, CBER’s research director, and Pam Quirin, a CBER graduate assistant. “In fact, we found that in the average county, creation of a TIF district led to fewer jobs in manufacturing and retailing as well as a slight drop in the number of businesses.

“This may happen because when businesses start up operations or move into the TIF districts, it shifts the number of jobs while others in the region suffer the job killing effects of higher tax rates,” Hicks said. “TIF districts also have no discernible statistical impact on sales taxes in counties. This may be because retail activity simply shifts from non-TIF districts to TIF areas.”

Local governments appear to be shifting the tax burden from TIF to non-TIF taxpayers to maintain constant levels of public service, Faulk said.

“While we cannot conclusively report that TIFs are the cause of higher tax rates on existing taxpayers, that is a very likely effect,” she said.

Other than increasing the assessed value of property within the districts, TIFs have little impact on economic development, Hicks said.

The report found the state’s aggregate net assessed value in TIFs increased from about $10 billion in 2003 to about $19 billion in 2012.

Researchers also discovered counties are accumulating debt to manage such projects. Indiana’s TIF districts had about 20 percent of the state’s $12 billion outstanding debt in 2013.

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Questions for our Hamilton County Municipal Candidates

The Constitutional Patriots are mailing out a questionnaire to all 95 Hamilton County candidates that are running for office in the May 5th, 2015 primary. This includes Mayors, Clerk-Treasurers and Council members.

The questions are as follows:

1. Why are you running for office?
2. What are your qualifications for the office you are seeking?
3. What would you like to accomplish while you are in office.
4. How do you define “fiscal responsibility”?
5. What will you do to promote transparency to the citizens when you are in office?

Stay tuned for answers from the candidates that return the forms.

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ISTEP Exams Could Feel Like a Marathon for Students

There is a new concern over Indiana’s highly debated and much maligned ISTEP exams. This year’s new test will take students more than twice as long to complete. Shocked educators fear ISTEP will be an endurance test, with smart students failing because of fatigue.

At Beech Grove’s Central Elementary School, Lisa LaFavers is confident her third graders will pass their ISTEP exams, if they don’t pass out from exhaustion.

“They know the content,” she said. “I am confident they know the skills, but the endurance?”

It is a big question. Kids with attention spans of 10 minutes will endure a battery of tests lasting 12 1/2 hours – more than twice as long as last year. The exams are broken into several tests spread over days and weeks. Even so, LaFavers is worried. Are their brains going to be mush?

“By the end of the day, I think they will be mush, yes,” she answered.

Indiana’s Department of Education says the federal government requires that students are tested on the state’s new, more rigorous education standards. The new ISTEP exams require students to do more reading, more writing, more thinking. That adds up to more time.

At 12 1/2 hours, third graders have the longest testing time. The other grades average about an hour less. When Beech Grove City Schools Assistant Superintendent Laura Hammack saw the new testing times, she cringed.

“I don’t want sound dramatic, but it was a shock. We were so, so surprised,” she said.

Hammack is concerned with the possibility of falling test scores, as well as the logistics of administrating the longer exams.

The computer lab at Center Elementary, the principal says, will have to be used every minute of every testing day. Lost teaching time is another issue. ISTEP exams will cut in to as many as 12 school days.

“When we are taking extra hours away from the opportunity for teaching to deliver instruction to the boys and girls, the kids are missing out,” she explained.

None of it seemed to make much sense to parent Jaimie Sunderland. She’s worried about her third grader.

“I am. She will just lose focus and I don’t think she will do as she would normally do,” she said.

ISTEP testing begins in March. Teachers, students and parents will be working longer this year. More testing days means more days and nights of getting students to bed early, well-fed in the morning and into school.

Instead of running a mini, many believe this year’s ISTEP will have everyone running a full marathon.

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Constitutional Patriots Meeting January 20th

Constitutional Patriots Meeting
Tuesday, January 20th, 7pm
1242 W. 136th Street, Carmel, Indiana

Join us for our first meeting of 2015 as we discuss the financial situation in Carmel with an emphasis on the 4CDC. Even though we will be discussing Carmel finances, this is happening in other towns and cities in Indiana so it affects all of us. We will have a panel who will comment on the report that was submitted to the State Board of Accounts (SBOA) last year. There will also be a time for questions and answers.

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Hoosier Action Alert


While many are aware that Indiana’s “new” standards are a Common Core rebrand, some may be in the dark. Common Core lives through the newly adopted Indiana Core Standards. Our rebranded standards were approved by the Governor’s office and voted on and passed by the Education Roundtable and the State Board of Education.

Tuesday, November 18th is organization day at the State House. This is a perfect day to call our elected officials to let them know that opposition to Common Core in Indiana remains strong! The calls we made on PARCC made a difference. They did hear us, so we need to continue to let them know we’re watching.

Please take the time to make three phone calls – one to your State Representative, one to your State Senator, and one to Governor Pence.

Politely tell them that Hoosier children across the state continue to be shackled to the Common Core, despite the passage of the repeal bill last session. Let them know that it is THEIR job to do what is necessary to make good on the pledge that Indiana would have internationally benchmarked standards, among the highest in the nation, as we did prior to the adoption of Common Core.

Also please let them know that it is time for Indiana to truly reclaim its sovereignty over K-12 education, by kicking the federal No Child Left Behind Waiver to the curb. Until Indiana frees itself from the NCLB waiver, it will be the federal government who remains in control of education policy, rather than elected officials at the state level.

Please follow up with letters and emails. DON’T STOP. Keep the contacts going and ask your friends to do the same.

Governor Pence – (317)232-4567

IN House of Reps. – (317)232-9400

IN Senate – (317)232-9600


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100% of newly elected GOP Senators campaigned on repealing Obamacare

Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) all ran on a platform of repealing Obamacare.

Gardner touted patient-centered care and a full repeal and replacement of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare.

“Small businesses and the American people cannot afford President Obama’s countless new regulations and tax increases. There is a right way and a wrong to improve our country’s healthcare system, and the President’s healthcare law just isn’t working. We need patient-centered care and lower costs. It is not too late to start over with a full repeal and replacement of the President’s healthcare law,” Gardner said in a statement.

Daines echoed those statements, also calling to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“Every American wants healthcare at a reasonable cost. No American wants a complicated plan full of false promises, special political favors, and costs we cannot afford. We should repeal Obamacare and implement an affordable health care system that actually improves the quality of health care,” he said.

Senate Georgia Perdue
Georgia Republican Senate candidate David Perdue (AP Photo/David Gold)

Perdue noted on his campaign page that he was one of the millions who had their personal health care policy cancelled and would support free market solutions to replace Obamacare.
“Obamacare is an overreaching federal program that will actually reduce the quality of health care and increase costs. I am one of the millions of Americans that had my personal policy cancelled after being told I could keep it. To make matters worse, Obamacare is discouraging full-time job creation. The consequences of politicians passing a massive bill without reading it continue to emerge. We need to repeal Obamacare and replace it with more affordable free market solutions,” Perdue said on his campaign page.

Cotton signed the Club for Growth’s “Repeal-It!” pledge which states, “I hereby pledge to the people of my district/state upon my election to the U.S. House of Representatives/U.S. Senate to sponsor and support legislation to repeal any federal health care takeover passed in 2010, and replace it with real reforms that lower health care costs without growing government.”

Ernst and Tillis have said they would repeal Obamacare.

Senate Iowa Ernst
Republican Iowa State Sen. Joni Ernst speaks to veterans at a restaurant Monday, July 28, 2014, in Urbandale, Iowa.

“Joni is staunchly opposed to the Obamacare law. Joni supports immediate action to repeal Obamacare and replace it with common sense, free-market alternatives that put patients first, and health care decisions back in the hands of each of us rather than Washington bureaucrats,” Ernst said on her campaign page.
“As North Carolina’s U.S. Senator, Tillis will push for repeal of Obamacare, a balanced budget, and conservative economic policy,” Tillis’ campaign page stated.

Lankford, a former congressman, has previously vowed to repeal Obamacare.

“I vowed to repeal this vastly unpopular law and today I joined more than 240 members of the House of Representatives to honor that commitment,” Lankford said. “Americans were rightly outraged by its passage and have continued to resist the job-destroying, government takeover of health care. Those voices have not been ignored and the pledge to make government smaller and less intrusive is well underway.”

Rounds campaigned on a platform of repealing Obamacare saying, “Republicans don’t have the votes right now to repeal Obamacare. We must take over control of the Senate which will require Republicans to pick up six seats this cycle. That is why this U.S. Senate race is so important. Please join me in the fight to repeal Obamacare. Our families deserve better.”

South Dakota Primary Rounds
Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds and candidate for U.S. Senate visits with supporters at his campaign headquarters in downtown Pierre, S.D., on Tuesday, June 3, 2014. He said the party is to thank supporters but not to celebrate victory, because there’s still work to be done.

Former congresswoman Capito voted for a full repeal of Obamacare, highlighting the massive tax increases that the law would impose on Americans.
“Americans of all ages and income brackets, and businesses across the country are learning the disturbing truth about the partisan legislation that was rammed through Congress without a single Republican vote. With the law’s full implementation looming, Americans are bracing for massive tax increases and daunting uncertainty. As health care costs soar, families’ access to care is limited and businesses contemplate closing their doors, it is time to fully repeal Obamacare,” Capito said.

Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska also stated that part of his health care agenda would be to “lower costs and increase access to healthcare” with repealing Obamacare as the first bullet point to achieve that goal.

In Alaska and Louisiana where the Senate races have not been called yet, both GOP candidates have expressed that they would fight for a repeal of Obamacare.

Candidate Dan Sullivan of Alaska has said he would repeal and replace Obamacare as his campaign page reads, “As Alaska’s Attorney General, Dan sued to stop Obamacare. He will continue that fight as your U.S. Senator. It is time to repeal and replace Obamacare and empower Alaskans to make their own healthcare decisions not the federal government.

Louisiana’s Senate GOP candidate, Bill Cassidy, has also voiced support for the repeal of Obamacare, listing 10 reasons why it should be replaced. As a practicing physician, Cassidy has said that the ACA would drive up costs, endangers access to care, destroys jobs and increases taxes just to name a few.

“By definition, a law that creates over 150 boards, bureaucracies, and commissions does not empower patients. Repealing this law is the first step to enacting real health care reform that lowers costs and expands access to quality health care for all Americans,” Cassidy said.

The business and economic reporting of is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.

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SEPTEMBER 24, 2014

For many Hoosier men and women, the American Dream means being able to turn passion into a profit. But the path to success isn’t always easy. Join us for a discussion with three entrepreneurs who have experienced firsthand the sacrifices and rewards of starting and maintaining a small business in central Indiana.


Please RSVP by Tuesday, September 23

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Common Core’s Growing Unpopularity

Phyllis Schlafly | Aug 12, 2014

The highly acclaimed school standards called Common Core are becoming so unpopular that they may soon be politically untouchable. The critics are piling on from Glenn Beck to the Wall Street Journal, with senior academics and activist parents in-between.

The latest is a detailed criticism of the mathematics standards by a prize-winning math professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Marina Ratner. It is refreshing that her criticisms are very specific and include examples of assignments that parents can see are ridiculous.

Professor Ratner became alerted to the stupidity of Common Core by looking at the homework assigned to her grandson in 6th grade Berkeley middle school. Fractions are taught by having the kids draw pictures of everything, such as 6 divided by 8, and 4 divided by 2/7, and also by creating fictional stories for such things as 2/3 divided by 3/4. A student who gives the correct answer right away and doesn’t draw a picture or make up a story loses points.

Ms. Ratner concluded that Common Core is making simple math concepts “artificially intricate and complex with the pretense of being deeper, while the actual content taught was primitive.” The bottom line is that Common Core is inferior to the current good California standards, and the $15.8 billion spent nationally to develop and adopt Common Core was a gigantic waste.

College ready? That’s another deceit. Math experts are saying that Common Core standards are not preparing students for colleges to which most parents aspire to send their children.

The Common Core History Standards have just become available. Real scholars say they are a “stealthy” plan to teach kids a leftwing curriculum.

Scholar Stanley Kurtz says that the new plan for teaching American History is spelled out in the SAT college entrance and Advanced Placement exams. They pitch out “traditional emphasis on America’s founders and the principles of constitutional government” in favor of a leftist “emphasis on race, gender, class, ethnicity.”

According to Kurtz, “James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and the other founders are largely left out of the new test unless they are “presented as examples of conflict and identity by class, gender, race, ethnicity, etc.” The text of the new AP U.S. History exam has been closely guarded, revealed only to a few certified AP U.S. History teachers who are sworn to secrecy.

Parents who are attentive to their children’s studies and homework have been up in arms against Common Core for many months. Now Common Core has become such a big issue that it’s beginning to bring the politicians into line with what the public is demanding.

Indiana was the first state to show the political power of the anti-Common Core movement. The activist moms defeated a superintendent of education and several legislators on this issue.

Oklahoma made the biggest splash when the state legislature voted to repeal the state’s earlier endorsement of Common Core. The governor signed the repeal, but the unelected state board of education impudently filed suit to nullify the repeal, and then the Oklahoma state Supreme Court wisely upheld the elected legislature’s repeal.

South Carolina’s governor signed a bill repealing that state’s commitment to Common Core. North Carolina’s governor signed a more modest bill authorizing the state school board to tweak the standards.

The state of Texas, under Gov. Rick Perry, was smart enough to be one of the five states that never signed on to Common Core in the first place. But now the pressure is on to force Texas to use the new AP U.S. history exam anyway, and Texans claim that is illegal under state law.

Louisiana was one of the original 45 states that endorsed Common Core before the standards were even written. But one day Gov. Bobby Jindal actually read his son’s Common Core math homework, was shocked, and then issued an executive order to block its implementation in Louisiana.

Two more governors have just seen the light and turned against Common Core. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced that he wants the state legislature to repeal the standards when it reconvenes in January, and Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah ordered his attorney general to conduct a review of the controversial standards.

Hoping to line up the support of teachers, the Gates Foundation education chief is now urging states to wait two years before using Common Core tests to make decisions about teacher performance.

Like many do-gooders, Bill Gates is obsessed with the problem of inequality. However, Common Core’s way of trying to overcome inequality is by dumbing down all U.S. students and pretending, like the Lake Wobegon kids, that all children are above average.

Reacting to the growing opposition to Common Core, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the biggest money bag for Common Core, is now urging states to have a two-year moratorium on all states and school districts about to make any high-stakes decisions based on tests aligned to the new standards.

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C. Steven Tucker weighs in on the court’s Obamacare decision

An Obamacare authority weighs in on the D. C. District Court of Appeals decision…

C. Steven Tucker’s Expert Opinion

HUGE legal smack down to the IRS and Obamacare in the D.C. Court of Appeals this morning! This is the case I’ve been writing about for years. The premise began with Oklahoma A.G. Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt’s case back in 2011. Then came Halbig v. Burwell. Both cases pertained to the ILLEGAL action taken by the IRS granting themselves powers they were NOT granted in the original Obamacare law. Now it’s headed to the SCOTUS but if we prevail at that level 57 MILLION Americans will be FREED from Obamacare’s “individual mandate”. It will be the beginning of the end of Obamacare.

The biggest threat to Obamacare yet is right around the corner.

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Obama’s Scary Plan for Preschoolers

On May 2, 2014, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius gave a speech to the Committee for Economic Development. She touted “an exciting investment opportunity.” She claims the investment “promises solid dividends and long-term growth” and states “its payout ratio is so solid that it’s projected to return at least $7 for every dollar that’s put in.” To what investment does the HHS secretary refer? “Infants and toddlers in those precious early years from birth to kindergarten.” (, 5-4-14)

Most parents don’t think of their children as an investment and some may be disturbed to hear a federal official speaking about them in those terms, especially to the Committee for Economic Development. The CED describes itself as “a group of business and education leaders committed to improving the growth and productivity of the U.S. economy, a freer global trading system, and greater opportunity for all Americans.” ( Parents may not approve of this plan whose aim seems to be to turn out cogs for the industrial machine rather than educated citizens.

While explaining President Obama’s “Early Childhood Package,” Sebelius in her May speech points out other programs that she claims are good for America: the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare; expansion of Medicaid; reauthorization and expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program or CHIP; and the expansion of Head Start.

Obama’s Early Childhood Package

What is Obama’s Early Childhood Package? According to Sebelius, the plan is that all preschool children “should have an opportunity to be in a high-quality learning environment and acquire social, emotional, and educational skills at the same time.” The first part of the plan is “universal preschool for every four-year-old child in America.” It is unclear whether this is intended to be mandatory. Sebelius offers the following to show just how far behind she thinks America is:

In Japan, virtually every 4-year-old attends preschool. In Britain, 97% of 4-year-olds are enrolled in preschool. And by 2020, China plans to provide 80% of its three- and four-year-olds with preschool education.

But is that something that American parents want and are those countries that America wishes to emulate?

Sebelius laments Economist magazine’s assertion that America ranks 26th among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development nation members in percentage of four-year-olds in preschool and 24th for three-year-olds. But maybe some American families prefer to keep their children home during those tender years.

Referring to research by Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, Sebelius claims that babies and toddlers “develop 700 new neurological connections every single second,” a phenomenon that is “the foundation upon which all later learning, behavior, and health depend.” Does it not occur to Sebelius and federal officials that many parents choose to be with their own children during this crucial time rather than entrusting them to someone else?

Head Start Grants

The next goal of Obama’s package is to “grow the supply of effective early learning opportunities for our children,” including new “Early Head Start-Child Care partnerships through which we award competitive grants to communities that make Early Head Start available to more families.” Sebelius claims, “We know from a wide array of research that the investments we make in early childhood initiatives put those kids on a path to learn more in school, and earn more in the workplace.” It is unclear to what research she is referring because actual research shows that Head Start is a failed program: any gains made by young children disappear in the early grades and, in fact, there is evidence that some children are harmed by the program. (See April, 2013 Education Reporter)

Yet, as stated at the HHS Administration for Children and Families website, Obama’s plan “will maintain and build on current Head Start investments, to support a greater share of infants, toddlers, and three-year-olds in America’s Head Start centers.” ( The federal government seems intent that infants and toddlers be away from their own homes and enrolled in an institutional setting.

This is also the premise of President Obama’s proposal that “encourages states to expand the availability of full-day kindergarten.” Claiming that “only 6 out of 10 of America’s kindergarten students have access to a full day of learning,” the Obama administration wants all children to spend the “time they need in school to reach rigorous benchmarks and standards.”

Critics worry that this drive to get young children out of family life and into institutions is harmful; they believe young children can learn while being with their own parents and caregivers chosen by their parents.

Voluntary Home Visitation

The final part of Obama’s Early Childhood package is “voluntary home visitation.” The visitations are to be conducted by “nurses, social workers, and other trained professionals.” Sebelius also favorably mentions pediatricians who can “screen for … parental depression.” The visitation program aims to start with low-income families. To some it sounds as if the federal government doubts the ability of low-income parents to parent their own children without federal supervision and monitoring.

Once the visitation program gets started, it is not certain that it would be limited by income levels; the intrusion could soon be manifest in all families. There is little doubt that some want these federal programs to become universal. Sebelius promotes the Health and Human Services “Watch Me Thrive!” program that creates “universal developmental and behavioral screenings, so that we can track a child’s progress in areas like language, social development, and motor development.” In what may seem to some to be double-speak, Sebelius claims these intrusions by the government into the family are “based on the premise that a child’s best and most important teachers are a child’s parents.” As Ronald Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

Sebelius’s speech was in part an attempt to gain financial support from the CED and its members; the other funding method she mentions is an increase in the tobacco tax.

Perhaps the most disingenuous part of Sebelius’s speech is when she claims that further federal intrusion into families will result in “more of our kids realiz[ing] their fullest potential” and says it will allow us to “benefit from a new generation of innovation, entrepreneurship, poetry, discovery, art, and progress.” This is said by an official of the same federal government that is pushing Common Core education standards, which spell the death knell for poetry, art, and the individual creativity that leads to discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship because students are allowed to learn only what is tested on standardized tests.

RTT Early Learning Challenge

The Obama administration’s Race To The Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) has awarded over $1 billion to supposedly “provide a strong start for our nation’s youngest children.” At the Dept. of Education website it states: “RTT-ELC supports states in their systemic efforts to align, coordinate, and improve the quality of existing early learning and development programs across multiple funding streams that support children from birth through age five.” (

As with Common Core Race to the Top grants, ELC-winning states had to jump through federal hoops in order to be considered winners; they will remain under federal scrutiny, having been given mandates about how awarded money will be spent. As with Common Core, the federal government is asserting control over decisions states should be making on their own and this will result in loss of local control.

HHS Sec. Sebelius will be replaced by Sylvia Burwell. After a stint in the Clinton administration, Burwell moved to Microsoft where she was a key aide to Common Core’s major funder and most powerful champion, Bill Gates. Observers expect that future alliances between the Depts. of Education and Health and Human Services will remain aimed at further diminishing states’ rights in favor of federal bureaucratic control of individuals, families, and education.

But Is It Good For Children?

Contrary to what Sec. Sebelius and her cronies believe, parents know what is best for their children. Swedish educator Jonas Himmelstrand, writing in the Huffington Post Canada (11-5-13), states that “the Swedish approach is that the state has taken over raising children from parents through the state run daycare system.” He notes that as a result of the universal preschool/daycare system in Sweden, “education outcomes are declining, teens are anxiety-ridden and misbehaving, and the quality of parenting is suffering.” Swedish parents accepted the government’s offer of free preschool for children from 18-months-old through kindergarten; the result has not proven good for children, families, or education. A study by Trends in International Mathematics and Science shows that “disorder in Swedish classrooms is among the worst among comparable countries.” Evidence indicates that “[Swedish] children are simply not sufficiently emotionally nourished to be teachable in school.”

In response to campaigns to get children out of the family home at younger and younger ages, society in general, and parents in particular, should take Jonas Himmelstrand’s advice to heart:

Child care must be a parental decision based on the needs of the child, not a state decision based on politics and the economy. The state needs to remain neutral to all forms of care — daycare, home care, nanny, granny care, and neighbor care — and not support one form of care above another.

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