California Lawmakers Battle over Proposed Childcare Budgets

Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, M.S. SpEd

California lawmakers have proposed to increase Governor Jerry Brown’s childcare and preschool budget by millions of dollars – however, Governor Brown will likely oppose the proposal.

Both the Senate and the Assembly passed childcare proposals in an effort to add spaces for childcare and increase the amount of money childcare centers receive. The Senate proposed an addition of $332 million while the Assembly’s plan gives an additional $605 million to the programs.

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In May, Governor Brown increased funding for childcare programs by an additional $88 million from his original January proposal. In a recent news conference, Brown cautioned lawmakers from overspending. He warned of an inevitable recession stating, “This is the realty of California.”

Contrary to Brown’s view, early education advocates are happy with the Senate and Assembly proposals after they deemed Brown’s budges as too skimpy.

The Assembly’s proposal would especially benefit special needs children aged three and four by adding more than 10,000 full-day spaces to preschools versus the 2,500 part-time slots currently offered. The State’s proposal is aimed mostly at general childcare and adds 4,300 slots with preschool slots included in that number. Additionally, 10,000 childcare vouchers would be provided for in the Assembly proposal and 13,200 vouchers in the Senate’s proposal.

Children Now president, Ted Lempert agrees with the new proposed budget increases stating that there needs to be a greater emphasis put on “those early years.”

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Taking funds from California Proposition 98, which “requires a minimum percentage of the state’s funding to be spent on K-12 education, and guarantees annual increases”, would provide funding for the Senate plan.

Governor Brown agrees with the importance of childcare but advises prudent spending. He emphasizes that there are many good programs that require state funding and that the budget just isn’t large enough to accommodate all of them.

Both proposal have been sent to conference committees and must have approval from the full Legislature by mid-June.