December 07, 2018

Legislative Update 12/7/18

On Monday, the California Legislature was sworn in, and many bills have already been introduced. As you can imagine, the buzz is palpable as hopes are high for what can be accomplished with a new administration, while at the same time, advocates are trying to manage expectations knowing we can't achieve everything we want all at once. Governor-elect Gavin Newsom has been open about his intent to focus on early childhood issues as has been reported as early as this week.

While the Public Policy Committee won't begin reviewing bills and deciding our positions until after the new year, I want to give you a heads up on a handful of bills introduced this week that we will surely be tracking. As the bills have just been introduced, they are not flush with details and will likely change as they move forward in the process:

AB 6 (Reyes and McCarty): This bill would establish an Office of Early Childhood Education, requiring the office to coordinate with the Department of Social Services and Health and Human Services Agency to ensure children are receiving the social and health services as well as early childhood education financial assistance they qualify for. This is one to watch because it could potentially increase the power of the current Early Learning and Care Division.

AB 124 (McCarty): This bill would put on a future ballot, a $500 million bond to finance a preschool facility grant program. This and other proposals we know are coming down the pike are important to watch as we want to ensure family child care homes are not left out of shoring up child care capacity.

AB 125 (McCarty et al): This bill would establish the intent of the legislature to enact a single regionalized state reimbursement rate system for child care, preschool, and early learning services. This is one to watch as last week, the Rate Reform Workgroup released its recommendations on how to achieve this, resulting in teachers and providers being compensated for the true cost of care in their community, while also recognizing the costs of meeting varying quality standards and regulations.

SB 6 (Caballero): This bill reintroduces the refundable child and dependent care tax credit, if it is allocated in the budget, much like is required each year for California's Earned Income Tax Credit. California previously provided a refundable credit, but it was eliminated during the recession. This is one to watch as a refundable credit provides a small relief to families who pay for child care even though they would qualify for child care assistance, but are among the over 1 million children unable to be served, as well as moderate income families who also do not have an income tax liability.

As required, the Governor will release a budget by January 10th, 2019. While we have no idea if the new Governor will provide specifics in January or wait until the May revise, we do know what areas ECE advocates will focus on this year: rate reform, investment in facilities, child care spaces, and professional development.

I cannot wait to embark on this 2019 adventure with you all.

In Unity,