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Children Now Statement on Final State Budget

OAKLAND, Calif.— This morning, the Governor signed the 2014-15 state budget. Children Now’s president Ted Lempert issued the following statement:

“Positive investments to enhance the quality of and expand access to preschool and transitional kindergarten programs were made in the 2014-15 state budget. At full implementation, nearly half (234,000) of all 4-year-old Californians will now have access to high-quality pre-kindergarten. The budget also includes funds to increase low-income families’ access to child care and makes critical updates to the subsidy reimbursement rates paid to the child care programs who serve these children.  Additionally, an agreement was reached to increase funding for the Early Start program, which will allow more infants and toddlers with delays or disabilities to access needed supports.  The budget provides for additional investments in the quality of California’s overall early learning system as well.  We applaud the recognition of the early years’ critical importance, and look forward to continuing work with policymakers to ensure California’s children get the best start possible.

We are also pleased to see the significant investment in the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which will contribute to restoring school budgets.  This investment will help bring the state nearly a third of the way towards full implementation of the new formula. We are also happy to see a second round investment of $250 million in the Career Pathways Trust to support regional collaboration among high schools, higher education, and employers for the benefit of students. However, while districts are being encouraged to use their debt payments to further implementation of the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards, this budgetary nod will not meet the statewide need. Children Now encourages the Legislature and Administration to earmark any additional one-time revenue that is realized in the fiscal year, above deferral repayment, to further California’s commitment to the state’s education standards.

Lastly, we applaud the inclusion of $4 million to restore funding for the Black Infant Health Program, which helps address high mortality rates among African-American babies through health education and social support for parents. We are also pleased with the establishment of a 3-year pilot program to provide mobile vision services to students. Unfortunately, there is no more good news for children’s health in this budget proposal, as many health cuts from the recession that have harmed children and families were left in place. The budget actually rejects foundation dollars to help enroll Californians in Medi-Cal – though Children Now is supporting a legislative effort (Senate Bill 18, Leno/Hernandez) to remedy that mistake. Unfortunately, the budget also maintains a 10 percent cut to Medi-Cal rates, which were already among the lowest in the nation. Policymakers also failed to restore funding for the Early Mental Health Initiative and Children’s Dental Disease Prevention Program, cost-effective, valuable public health programs that children in our state relied on and desperately need. The budget compromise also fails to provide children in Medi-Cal the same access to behavioral therapy for autism as their peers with private coverage, and to invest in school-based health centers.”

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