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Children Now Statement on State Budget Agreement

Oakland, Calif. – As the Legislature and Governor wrap up the 2014-15 state budget, Children Now’s president Ted Lempert issued the following statement:

“The state budget agreement includes significant positive investments to enhance the quality of and expand access to preschool and transitional kindergarten programs. At full implementation, nearly half (234,000) of all 4-year-old Californians will have access to high-quality pre-kindergarten. There was also a move to begin to restore access to and improve the reimbursement rates of child care for low-income families, which has been decimated in recent years.  Additionally, an agreement was reached that the Early Start program for infants and toddlers with delays or disabilities will be expanded. We applaud the recognition of the early years’ critical importance, and look forward to working with policymakers to build off this down payment to ensure all of California’s youngest children get the best start possible beginning at birth.

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 debt repayment, to further California’s commitment to the state’s education standards.

Lastly, we applaud the conference agreement for including $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 the Legislature left in place many health cuts from the recession that have harmed children and families in our state. The agreement actually rejects foundation dollars to help enroll Californians in Medi-Cal, which provides coverage for half of all of California’s kids, and 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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