Budget & Tax , Education

Brandon Dutcher | June 22, 2015

DHS program adjustments a step in the right direction

Brandon Dutcher

In an article last year I made the argument that “state legislators should shrink the Department of Human Services budget and enlarge your family budget: Redirect a portion of Oklahoma’s daycare subsidies toward a tax break for families with a parent at home.”

This idea enjoys overwhelming popular support. A scientific telephone survey of 1,000 likely Oklahoma voters was conducted February 25 through March 8, 2010, by SoonerPoll (margin of error: plus or minus 3.1 percentage points). The surveyor asked this question: “Now thinking about early-childhood policy in Oklahoma, assuming the state government had a limited amount of money, which of the following do you believe should take precedence?” The results:

• Increasing daycare subsidies for families when professional child care is used for their young child(ren) ... 25 percent
• Redirecting a portion of the daycare subsidies toward a tax break for families in which one parent stays home with young child(ren) ... 61 percent
• Don’t know/Refused ...14 percent

The “tax break for families” option prevailed in all demographic groups: men and women, rich and poor, married and single, highly educated and barely educated, religious and irreligious. It prevailed among Republicans, Democrats, Independents, conservatives, liberals, and moderates. It prevailed among those living in Tulsa, those living in Oklahoma City, and those living in the rest of the state. The “daycare” option couldn’t even carry the day among those earning less than $15,000 (the margin was 52 to 30), those earning between $15,000 and $24,000 (75 to 15), or those earning between $25,000 and $34,000 (65 to 22). Even among the “very liberal” the tax break for families prevailed 60 to 33.

Alas, there was a small step in the right direction last week when the Oklahoma Department of Human Services raised the monthly co-pays and changed the eligibility requirements for those receiving child care subsidies. Here’s hoping state legislators in 2012 will make even more progress by shrinking the DHS budget even further and increasing the Oklahoma child tax credit.

Brandon Dutcher Senior Vice President

Brandon Dutcher

Senior Vice President

Brandon Dutcher is OCPA’s senior vice president. Originally an OCPA board member, he joined the staff in 1995. Dutcher received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oklahoma. He received a master’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public policy from Regent University. Dutcher is listed in the Heritage Foundation Guide to Public Policy Experts, and is editor of the book Oklahoma Policy Blueprint, which was praised by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman as “thorough, well-informed, and highly sophisticated.” His award-winning articles have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, WORLD magazine,,, The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, and 200 newspapers throughout Oklahoma and the U.S. He and his wife, Susie, have six children and live in Edmond.

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