Early Care and Education in the House and Senate Budgets
As you may recall, early childhood care and education proposals started out on good footing in the Governor’s budget proposal back in December. After the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees have weighed the various budget proposal, and made their tweaks, support for early childhood education remains strong. Yet, as always, there are differences in the House and Senate budgets. In the next few weeks a team of five budget conferees from each committee, House Appropriations and Senate Finance, will be appointed to hash out the differences in the budgets. Below are the key differences in the budget proposals and what we hope the final budget will include.
Virginia Preschool Initiative
- Senate proposal to “rebenchmark” the per pupil rate- The Senate version of the budget includes an increase to the VPI per pupil rate to adjust the rate in line with overall increases in education funding formulas (known as biennial rebenchmarking). The Senate proposal would increase the VPI per pupil rate from $6,000 to $6,250, a 4.2% increase. The VPI per pupil rate has not been increased since 2008 and has not been incorporated into the biennial rebenchmarking process in the past. The Senate’s proposal to include an additional $2.9 M per year is a step in the right direction to help bring VPI funding up to true costs and to recognize that the per pupil rate should be revisited regularly. We will advocate for the conference committee to adopt the Senate’s proposal.
- Language on Joint Subcommittee on VPI Reform- The Senate has proposed language asking for the Jt Subcommittee on VPI Reform to make a report of recommendations this November 2016 rather than Nov 2017. We will advocate for the conference committee to adopt the Senate’s proposal.
Other Early Childhood Education
- House proposal to reduce funding for early childhood workforce scholarships- The House has proposed to reduce the amount of funding for the new workforce scholarship initiative through VECF to $600,000 in FY17 and $1 M in FY18.
Human Services Funding
- Differences in TANF Funding– There was a lot of discussion of TANF funding this year and the best uses moving forward. Both the House and the Senate proposed different alternative uses for TANF funding, including some supplements to the family’s cash payment. Some of the new proposals came as a result of reducing the TANF child care funding (subsidies for families on TANF- only). Voices would like to work with the various organizations weighing in on different sides around how policymakers should best direct TANF surpluses in the future.
- Senate proposal to adjust home visiting funding- The Governor’s proposed increases to home visiting were funded by TANF as well. The House retained all of the $7.75 M for CHIP and Healthy Families, while the Senate reduced Healthy Families funding by $2M each year to an additional $4.75 M each year. This amount still allows for expansion. The Senate also proposed $1M in funding each year to keep Resource Mothers afloat while the impact evaluation was underway.
No Changes from the Introduced Budget
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- VPI Eligibility criteria- Both the House and Senate have affirmed the Governor’s proposed eligibility criteria where a child would be eligible if: they are below 200% poverty, they are homeless, their parent did not graduate high school or they have a special need or disability (up to 350% poverty). As well as the new language—up to 15% of a division’s slots may be filled based on locally established eligibility criteria so as to meet the unique needs of the community. I believe this a fair approach to target the most at-risk students while allowing for some local flexibility.
- Preserved funding increase for Part C Early Intervention Services- Both budgets preserve the funding for Early Intervention Part C services for infants and toddlers with developmental delays- an additional $1.7 million is included in FY17 and $2.5 million in FY18.