Monday, June 1, 2009

Childcare, Education, and the Budget

Day 6 of the Conference Committee reviewed the Governor’s proposals affecting child care, K-12 education, and higher education.

Consider these child care proposals:

· Eliminating funding for community care licensing; and

· Eliminating funding for child care for for poor families who are transitioning back into employment through the CalWORKS program.

The latter proposal conforms with the governor’s proposal to eliminate CalWORKS funding. With unemployment now at nearly 11%, the overlay of these two proposals would, if enacted, have enormous effects on California families struggling under the weight of our current economic recession.

These childcare proposals amount to throwing our state’s women and children overboard when our state and our economy are in crisis. This is reinforced by the governor’s proposals affecting education.

In overall dollar amounts, the proposed education cuts are the largest cuts that the governor has offered in his May Revise budget. Consider these proposals for the next 13 months, applicable to the end of the current fiscal year and the 2009-2010 budget, include:

· $5.2 billion in cuts from K-12 education;

· $3.1 billion in cuts to higher education, including phasing out CalGrants (Note: approximately $1.2 billion in cuts would be backfilled with federal funds); and

· $935 million in cuts from community colleges.

Californians have prioritized education spending above all other areas of the budget. This is why education spending is the largest single component of the budget. In recent years, state expenditures for K-12 and higher education combined have been nearly half of the state budget. And, K-12 education funding is the single largest area of spending. As the largest pot of budget funds, K-12 education becomes a target in the governor’s approach to balancing the budget predominantly through cuts. These cuts will not be felt equally in communities across California due to differing levels of enrollment.

Consider these charts highlighting K-12 enrollment and the top 20 counties receiving K-12 spending on a per capita basis. The top 5 counties for education expenditure – the counties of Modoc, Tulare, Merced, San Bernardino and Imperial – are also among the poorest counties in the state.