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California Budget Panel Approves $392 Million in Early-Education Funding

As lawmakers close in on a final budget package in California, legislators on the Budget Conference Committee agreed to a budget compromise that includes $392 million in additional spending on early-care and education programs.

In order for it to become law, Gov. Jerry Brown would still need to sign the an overall budget package, including this proposal, into  law. The proposal is in keeping with the direction the state set on early education last year and would mean 5,000 new full-day state preschool spots and 10,000 new half-day state preschool spots. It would also grant a 10 percent increase to the reimbursement received by preschool providers serving children who qualify for state funding.

The measure would also extend the qualification for state-funded preschool to any child from a family making 80 percent of the median state income, which is equal to $55,760.

California lost a significant amount of funding for state preschool during the recession and has been slower to restore it than it has been to restore K-12 funding. In the last two years, however, the amount budgeted for state preschool and other early-care and education programs has increased.

"This proposal goes a long way toward ensuring our most vulnerable children are ready to succeed in school, our working families are supported as they participate in the recovering economy, and we are more fully covering the cost of caring for and educating our youngest learners," said Deborah Kong, president of the advocacy group Early Edge California.

Kong and other advocates will now be pushing for the governor to include this proposal in his final budget package, which is expected later this month.

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