April 2022 Monthly Update
Dear Friends and Partners,
We have hit the seventh week of our regular legislative session! Here are some highlights: Last week, the House Floor approved HB 1 (Rep. Zeringue), including $44 million in early care and education funding—$25 million to expand CCAP, roughly $18 million to improve rates offered to existing four-year-old programs. On Monday, May 2, the Senate Finance Committee will receive public comment on HB 1 starting at 9:00 a.m. in Room A-B. If you are able to, please come to the Louisiana State Capitol and testify at the Senate Finance Committee meeting! While the meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m., we currently do not know when the committee will hear comments from education advocates. When you arrive, please fill out a green card from Senate staff. Public comment on the budget is usually taken in order of Department schedule, and early care and education is usually heard with the Department of Education in schedule 19. It is likely to be a long morning, and we sincerely appreciate your efforts! If you are not able to attend the meeting in person, we encourage you to email the Senate Finance Committee and urge them to support HB 1.
The House Floor also approved HB 406 (Rep. Zeringue), a supplemental funding bill that appropriates $40 million in one-time funding to the Louisiana Early Childhood Education Fund. Although we appreciate this funding, it does fall short of our $50 million ask. We appreciate that Chairman Zeringue indicated his willingness to see this appropriation increase after the Revenue Estimating Conference meets, as they are expected to recognize additional one-time funding. It is rare for the state to have such a surplus of funding, and now is the time for the legislature to put a big down payment on our children’s future. Watch Representative Hughes’ public comment.
Additionally, we have been working on SB 47 (Sen. Fields), which seeks to expand access to high-quality early care and education for more children, particularly in a prekindergarten setting. In its original form, LPIC had serious concerns about its unintended impacts on the child care industry and issues with the developmental appropriateness of three-year-olds being served in a traditional school setting. However, Sen. Cleo Fields has been a champion of the early care and education issue, and he took our concerns seriously. We believe the amendment expands access to more families who need it, will improve kindergarten readiness, and preserves the importance of the existing child care industry, with all prekindergarten offerings under the bill required to be offered by a quality-rated provider who will be compensated accordingly. We will continue to watch this legislation.
Lastly, we are co-hosting Early Ed Day at the Capitol and hope you can join us on Tuesday, May 10th from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm at the Louisiana State Capitol. Early Education Day at the Capitol is an advocacy day for business leaders, chambers of commerce, United Ways, advocacy organizations, early care and education professionals, and parents to educate policymakers about the importance of improving policies and increasing investment in quality early care and education for children birth through age four in Louisiana. Please register for Early Ed Day at the Capitol by May 4th! As always, we offer our organization as a resource to answer questions related to our research and throughout the Legislative session.
Thank you for advocating on behalf of young children and working families in Louisiana!