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California Bill Setting Deadline for Preschool Expansion Vetoed

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a California bill on Friday that would have provided a June 2018 deadline for expanding public preschool in the state to all low-income 4-year-olds.

"A bill that sets an arbitrary deadline, contingent on a sufficient appropriation, is unnecessary," Brown wrote in his veto message to the California State Assembly on October 9. Expanding state preschool, he wrote, "should be considered in the budget process, as it is every year."

The bill, which I have written about previously for both this blog and for The Hechinger Report, initially called for funding to expand public preschool to all low-income 4-year-olds (those from families making less than 70 percent of the state median income, which is $46,896 for a family of four). By the time the state legislature passed the bill on September 11 it had been disconnected from funding.

While advocates had wanted to slam down a specific deadline by which California would be responsible for serving all low-income children, a goal its statewide preschool program has fallen short of for many years, they are hopeful that the governor will stick to the more general provisions already in place. A 2014 budget trailer bill codifies the state's "intent" to continue expanding state preschool until it serves all eligible children. (For more on this, see the detailed story by Sarah Tully of EdSource Today.) The main difference between the existing law (SB 858) and the bill that was vetoed Friday (AB 47) was the deadline.

"For now, we will take the Governor at his word, that the budget process will result in clear and continual progress towards the goal of full access," wrote Moira Kenney, executive director of the First 5 Association of California, an early education advocacy organization, in an EdSource Today commentary.

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