Virginia voters want family caregiver relief

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Mildred Tompkins discusses a proposal for paid family medical leave while helping at a community Halloween festival in Charleston, W.Va., on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021. Tompkins said her two daughters could have benefitted from the plan, which was removed from President Joe Biden’s social spending plan because of opposition from West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

By Diane Bernard
Virginia News Connection

As the Virginia governor’s race comes down to the wire tomorrow, a new survey showed a majority of the state’s voters would favor a candidate who backs support for family caregivers.

Ginger Thompson, associate state director of communications for AARP Virginia, which sponsored the survey, reported more than a million Virginians are unpaid caregivers and the report reveals an overwhelming number of voters want paid family leave and a state tax credit to help them.

Thompson said it is not surprising the majority cuts across party lines, since caregiving affects everyone at one time or another.

“In Virginia, family caregivers provide about 870 hours of unpaid care per year, which is valued at $11.2 billion,” Thompson explained.

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She added caregivers essentially help taxpayers as well as their families by keeping loved ones out of tax-supported nursing homes.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe has come out in favor of paid family leave and other policies; Republican Glenn Youngkin backs investigating a caregiver tax credit.

The survey found more than 75% of Virginia voters ages 18 to 49 are in favor of paid family leave to care for family members with serious health conditions. Thompson noted a majority of Millennials and Gen X-ers also support a tax credit to offset expenses, indicating they are concerned about caregiving.

“These are people who could be in the situation of taking care of an older loved one, such as a parent or grandparent, and still have children at home to take care of,” Thompson pointed out. “And they could be working. So paid family leave and a state tax credit could help with the overwhelming responsibility of caregiving.”

Some caregiver advocates were disappointed when a proposed federal tax credit for caregivers worth up to $5,000 was axed from President Biden’s final budget plan.

About 48 million Americans provide unpaid care to a family member or friend, according to another AARP study, with expenses totaling more than $7,200 annually.

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