Early childhood funding stays flat in governor's budget

After years of funding cuts to early childhood programs, Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget would keep funding levels nearly the same as last year.

“There was no restoration of the cuts from recent years, but no additional cuts,” said Rachel Ehlers of the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO).

Brown’s budget allocates $2.2 billion, including designated federal funds, to cover child care and state preschool for 340,000 children in the 2013-2014 fiscal year, said Ehlers. Some funding would be moved around within the CalWORKS child care program for low-income children, but it would not affect the number of children served or the overall funding available.

Scott Moore, senior policy analyst for the advocacy group Preschool California, said not restoring the lost funding was a missed opportunity. “That’s the number one glaring omission in the budget,” Moore said. “What we know from research is that when we invest in early childhood education, that’s the best investment we can make.”

Early childhood education programs have been cut by about $1 billion since the 2008-2009 fiscal year and now serve 110,000 fewer children than they did before the recession, according to the LAO. Moore said holding funding steady at its current rate does not address the need for expanded child care and preschool programs in the state.

Despite the budget cutbacks, California spends more per child on early education than most states, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). Sixteen percent of the state’s 3-year-olds and 32 percent of its 4-year-olds attended some form of state- or federally-funded preschool in 2011, according to the institute.

Not all early childhood programs are dependent on allocations from the state’s general fund. Many are funded through First 5 California, the commission created by voter initiative Proposition 10. The 1998 initiative added a 50-cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes that generates approximately $590 million annually.  “It’s allocated, it’s voter approved,” said Lindsay VanLaningham, spokesperson for First 5 California, referring to Prop. 10 funding. “The governor really can’t change that.”

Preschool California’s Moore is not ready to accept the governor’s proposal as final. He said he “looked forward” to working with the  Legislature to push for restoration of the lost funding. “This is our youngest and most vulnerable population,” Moore said. “They’ve been tremendously hurt over the last four years and we need to take care of our youngest children.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson expressed a similar view Thursday. While applauding Gov. Brown for beginning to restore what K-12 schools have lost, he said, “I do believe that early education programs — cut deeply in recent years — deserve to share in this recovery as well.”

Filed under: Early Learning

Tags: ,


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment Policy

EdSource encourages a robust debate on education issues and welcomes comments from our readers.

  • To preserve a civil dialogue, writers should avoid personal, gratuitous attacks and invective.
  • Comments should be relevant to the subject of the article responded to.
  • EdSource retains the right not to publish inappropriate and offensive comments.
  • EdSource encourages commenters to use their real names. Commenters who do decide to use a pseudonym should use it consistently.
  • Please limit comments to 250 words to prevent comment clutter; if you intend to say more please link out to a place that contains your full comment.
  • Comments with more than one link automatically enter moderation. Comments from new commenters are automatically moderated.
  • Repeated violation of this comment policy will lead to a warning. Continued violations will lead to a ban.

One Response to “Early childhood funding stays flat in governor's budget”

EdSource does not track who "likes or dislikes" a comment. We only track the number of likes and dislikes.

  1. el on Jan 14, 2013 at 1:57 pm01/14/2013 1:57 pm

    • 000

    The preschool cuts have been draconian and in particular the change for this current year requiring schools to bill even very low income parents for their children’s attendance was a huge step backward.

    If Oklahoma can fund universal preschool, you’d think California could.

Template last modified: