SACRAMENTO–A bill by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to provide a monthly $50 dollar diaper voucher to parents in the CalWORKs welfare-to-work program was approved by the Assembly today on a bipartisan 60-5 vote. The Assembly also approved a second bill by Gonzalez to exempt diapers from California’s sales tax on a unanimous 70-0 vote. Both bills now proceed to the Senate.
Assembly Bill 492 would offer a monthly $50 supplement per child age 2 or younger to parents enrolled in CalWORKs who also qualify for the childcare benefit. The monthly supplement would only be used on diaper purchases, helping address a major barrier to parents seeking to enter and remain in the workforce by making childcare more accessible.
The financial relief from the state’s current diaper tax found in AB 717 could save California families up to $100 per child annually, roughly equivalent to the cost of a month’s worth of diapers for infants and toddlers. Despite being a critical necessity for all young children, the state’s sales tax applies to diapers while exempting food and prescription health products. The exemption would sunset January 1, 2022.
“Diapers are a necessity for healthy children, and it’s critical to ensure young children are healthy and prepared to succeed from the beginning,” said Gonzalez. “These bills are common sense opportunities to ease the financial pressure on new parents trying to get back to work and provide a good start for their kids.”
Diapers are a necessity for infants and toddlers, costing families $72 to $100 a month per child, creating a barrier to financial stability. Despite being critical to the health and hygiene of young children, diapers are excluded from state and federal assistance such as CalFresh, the federal Women Infant and Children program (WIC) and Medi-Cal. Lack of child care is a leading barrier to parents returning to the workforce, and a lack of affordable diapers is a major impediment to accessing available child care options.
Further, missing child care due to diaper need is a loss for the child themselves. In addition to risking a variety of health issues early in life, they miss the opportunity to participate in early childhood education, which more than doubles a child’s likelihood to go on to college.
Seven states already exempt diapers from their respective sales taxes: Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
AB 492 is joint-authored by Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles). Senator Joel Anderson (R-East San Diego County) serves as principal Senate coauthor and Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Compton) is a coauthor.
Senator Joel Anderson (R-East San Diego County) acts as principle co-author on the bipartisan measure, and Assemblymembers Nora Campos (D-San Jose), Matthew Dababneh (D-Encino), Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona), and Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) are co-authors of the bill.