PA Budget Watch
A lot happens behind the scenes to make child care and early learning a reality in our local communities. To keep you informed, Promising Kids provides timely updates on the funding streams that support early learning and care in Pennsylvania — the federal budget and state budget — as well as related policy news and information.
Governor Corbett Addresses ECE in 2013-14 Budget Address
Governor Tom Corbett delivered his 2013-14 state budget address on February 5 to the General Assembly, outlining his priorities for the Commonwealth during the upcoming year.
Governor Corbett spoke to early education, increasing the Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance programs by a combined $6.4 million to serve an additional 3,200 children, saying this increase was necessary “because every child in Pennsylvania deserves an equal start in life, and I intend to see that promise kept.”
The Governor also said he seeks to serve more children through additional child care assistance in the coming years and support enhanced kindergarten classrooms, among other education initiatives, through the sale of liquor stores.
DVAEYC Executive Director Sharon Easterling said, “The good news is that the Governor is proposing a budget with meaningful growth in the number of children served through Pre-K Counts and Head Start. The bad news is that the majority of young children in Pennsylvania still do not have access to high quality early learning programs. As we face the very real prospect of federal cuts through sequestration, it is vital that we do everything in power to protect children and create real opportunity for their future.”
Congress is still considering enacting automatic cuts to child care and Head Start, among other programs, beginning March 1st that would greatly offset any increases to early learning proposed by Governor Corbett.
The 2012-2013 PA Budget
On June 30, after a relentless budget negotiation, Governor Tom Corbett signed the 2012-13 Pennsylvania budget into law just minutes before the midnight deadline.
Pre-K Counts, restored …
Head Start Supplemental, restored …
Accountability Block Grant, restored …
…by the legislature after the Governor initially proposed cuts to these programs in February!
Unfortunately, Child Care Services sustained a major cut of $28 million. Savings are projected through changes in regulations related to child care subsidy ($14 million) and relative/neighbor reimbursements ($10 million). OCDEL is in the process of determining how to implement the final $4 million cut. We will keep you informed of details as they emerge from OCDEL on the implementation of the 2012-2013 budget.
A detailed look:
- Pre-K Counts – level funded ($82.8 million)
- Head Start Supplemental Assistance – level funded ($37.3 million)
- Child Care Works/Keystone STARS – $28 million cut
- Accountability Block Grant – level funded ($100 million)
- Early Intervention, birth-3 year olds – $10.2 million increase
- Early Intervention, 3-5 year olds – $8.1 million increase
- Nurse Family Partnership – level funded ($11.9 million)
The 2012-2013 budget totals $27.65 billion – $500 million more than what was proposed by Governor Corbett in February. Click here if you are interested to see how your legislators voted on the final budget, (Senate Bill 1466).
Please take a moment to thank those who worked to restore early learning resources throughout the budget process, and to reflect on and appreciate your hard work.
Thank you for all you do you for Pennsylvania’s youngest learners.
The 2012-2013 State Budget
On February 7, the Governor outlined his proposed 2012-2013 state budget for the Pennsylvania General Assembly. In consideration of an expected revenue shortfall, his budget contained steep cuts to quality early learning resources and programs. Maintaining the cuts only approach, important revenue raising options were not included in the proposed budget even with vital early learning programs on the line.
The proposed budget slashes support for Keystone STARS and Child Care Works, the program that provides subsidy to help low income, working families afford child care, by $24.1 million dollars. This cut amounts to about a 7% reduction for child care subsidy and quality improvement initiatives for child care programs.
The Pre-K Counts program was reduced by about $4.1 million. Head Start Supplemental, which provides additional slots for Head Start classrooms, was cut by $1.8 million.
The budget eliminates the Accountability Block Grant, which support full-day kindergarten and expanded pre-k classrooms in Pennsylvania school districts. Last year’s budget also removed the Accountability Block Grant, but strong opposition from parents and advocates led to a partial restoration of this important funding for early learning settings.
Revenue options such as closing the corporate tax loophole, which allows more than 70% of Pennsylvania corporations to pay no income tax at all, and taxing smokeless tobacco, a product shown to directly target use by children, remain on the table. A proposal to tax natural gas extraction passed both the PA House and Senate this week and is expected to be approved by the Governor soon. This proposal does not provide revenues to support social services such as quality child care and early learning classrooms.
Update: The 2011-2012 Federal Budget
On December 17, 2011 the Senate passed the federal budget for the 2012 fiscal year, three months after the September 30th budget deadline. There were small increases in several areas of early childhood funding, including an increase in the funds that supports child care subsidy for low income, working families and that provide slots for Head Start classrooms. While not sufficient to meet the growing need for early learning resources in Pennsylvania, this positive budget news is a win for early learning advocates and a welcome sign from a Congress that just a few months ago was considering cuts to early education. For a more comprehensive look at the FY12 federal budget, visit New America Foundation’s Early Education Initiative.
Update: The 2011-2012 Budget
Following modest, across-the-board cuts to early childhood programs in the 2011-2012 state budget enacted in June, the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) worked to reduce any impact on young children in its program areas. OCDEL recently reported that the number of children and families served in Early Intervention, Keystone STARS, and Child Care Works was maintained, but that fewer children were served than originally projected in the governor’s budget for Pre-K Counts (11,500 children) and Head Start Supplemental (5,500). Exact enrollment figures are not yet publicly available. Promising Kids will provide updated changes to enrollment when they are available.
As Promising Kids reported, funding for T.E.A.C.H. scholarships was eliminated in the state budget. These scholarships assisted nearly 2,000 statewide early childhood professionals in achieving advanced early childhood degrees. Approximately 160 recipients with the fewest credits left toward earning a degree will continue to receive their scholarships; most of these recipients are expected to graduate this year.
With a new law in effect that required $16 million in co-pay savings for Child Care Works (the state’s child care subsidy program), the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) announced increased co-pay rates for families in October 2011. Families eligible for subsidized child care will now pay from 8 percent to 11 percent of their income. Co-pays for the lowest-income families earning less than $18,530 face the highest increases, ranging from a 67 to 100 percent increase. DPW did maintain per-family co-pays (versus changing to pre-child co-pays) and waiving co-pays for TANF families without earned income.