On May 11, Governor Jerry Brown proposed a $137.6 billion state budget that reflects an unprecedented $8.8 billion dollar surplus. Brown has proposed using much of the surplus to bolster the state’s rainy day fund to protect spending during a future recession, while also using one-time funds to address homelessness, mental health needs, fire prevention and infrastructure projects. With regard to early care and education, the Governor’s budget differs from his January proposal in several respects. The May revision includes:
• An increase of $104 million for CalWORKS Stage 2 and Stage 3 Child Care to reflect increases in the number of CalWORKS child care cases and cost of care
• An increase of $4 million to reflect a change in the cost-of-living factor from 2.51 percent at the January budget to 2.71 percent at the May Revision
Despite the state’s healthy budget outlook, only 14 percent of low-income, working families have access to subsidized care for their infants and toddlers, and half of child care providers rely on public income supports because compensation is so low. In Los Angeles County alone, of the babies and toddlers that are eligible for state subsidized child care, 94% lack access to these programs. We know that California can do more to ensure that all children have access to high quality early learning experiences while enabling parents to work, and providing a livable wage for early learning educators – the brain builders of our children.
As a leading nonprofit working toward a future where every child has the educational opportunities they need to succeed in school and life, we support the development of the whole child, beginning at birth. 90% of a child’s brain is developed by age five. Research shows that children who attend quality preschool are four times more likely to earn a college degree, stay employed longer, and earn higher incomes. When we invest in our children, we are equipping the next generation and advancing our future workforce. California can do more, and we look forward to working with the Governor and members of the legislature to prioritize and invest in the foundations of our future leaders.