Governor's latest early education budget proposal disappoints advocates, providers
Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal for early education, released Friday as part of the May revision of the 2016-17 state budget, is virtually unchanged from his initial proposal in January, offering no new spending and envisioning the creation of a $1.6 billion block grant that would combine funding for the state’s preschool, transitional kindergarten and quality rating and improvement programs.
Early education advocates and providers expressed swift disappointment. For months they had urged greater spending and asked that the block grant – which would give local school districts more flexibility to spend early education funds and be a major change in how the state allocates those funds – be removed from the budget process for further review.
“The governor is proposing a substantial policy change to the early childhood system without any new funding for children,” said Debra Kong, president of the advocacy organization Early Edge. “And the few weeks left in the budget process is not enough time for the field, families, and policymakers to consider the ramifications.”
At the Bay Area Council, a business advocacy group that last week took 60 members to Sacramento to lobby Brown administration officials on early education spending and reform, Senior Vice President of Public Policy Matt Regan said: “There’s certainly not the additional investment we’d hoped to see. I know the revenue numbers are a little short of what we’d hoped for, but at the end of the day we’re still under-resourcing early education programs and we’re still in deficit for where we were before the recession, and that needs to be made up.”
“The governor’s correct, we do need reforms,” Regan added. “Unfortunately, it’s being done through the budget process. It needs to be done through a more thoughtful process … through the legislative process.”
In announcing his revised budget at a morning press conference, Brown did not directly reference early education. But he made clear, as he has before, that his hand is being guided by the inevitable prospect of the next economic downturn.
“Things don’t last forever and the surging tide of revenue is beginning to turn, as it always does,” Brown said.
The budget proposal reflected none of the recent sentiment articulated in the state Legislature, where lawmakers in the Assembly subcommittee on education voted in April to reject the block grant plan. Legislators in both the Assembly and state Senate had also given generally friendly receptions to Governor’s latest early education budget proposal disappoints advocates, providers | EdSource: