As Governor, Ashcroft staunchly opposed efforts to require church-run day care centers to meet even minimal health and safety regulations such as state fire codes and health requirements. Missouri was the only state that exempted them completely from those regulations. His opposition raises serious concerns not only about his preferential treatment of religious institutions, but also about how he, as attorney general, would interpret and implement so-called "charitable choice" laws.
Ashcroft frequently used his veto to balance the state budget or otherwise reject legislation in a way that increased the burden on those least able to bear it. For example, on July 13, 1990, Ashcroft vetoed a bill that would have provided eight weeks of unpaid leave to new birth and adoptive mothers. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch condemned Ashcroft’s veto in an editorial: "The veto of this bill pitted the welfare of business against the welfare of the family - and the family lost.