Gov. Susana Martinez has signed a state budget that includes smaller increases than in recent years for early childhood funding. She did not use her line-item veto power to cut any of the early childhood money in the budget, which is for the year starting July 1, 2016.
The Legislature had hoped for more sizable increases in early childhood funding, but the declining price of oil caused lawmakers to expect much lower state revenues in the coming year. As a result, proposed increases were reduced.
The governor-approved budget eliminated all increases for the Public Education Department (PED) in early childhood, which had included a $2 million increase for PED PreK for 4-year-olds, a $2 million increase in Kindergarten to 3rd Grade Plus and a $2 million increase for early literacy programs in the early grades of public school (such as reading coaches). Those increases had been endorsed by the House. (As a result, PED PreK will remain at $24.5 million, K to 3rd Grade Plus at $23.7 million, and early literacy at $15 million.)
On the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) side, the governor approved the legislature’s $750,000 increase for early PreK for 3-year-olds. The increase makes CYFD PreK total $27.35 million. The governor also approved a $900,000 increase for home visiting and a $50,000 increase for T.E.A.C.H. scholarships and INCENTIVE$ pay supplements. The total budget for home visiting will be $16.4 million. If the money for T.E.A.C.H. and INCENTIVE$ is split between the programs, the budgets will be $521,950 for INCENTIVE$ and $1.66 million for T.E.A.C.H.
A proposed $1 million increase for child care assistance had been scratched by the House. The legislature as a whole and the governor left child care assistance with no increase at $96.6 million.
The Legislature had been planning on having a sizable amount of “new” money in terms of rising revenues until the price of oil plummeted. About 16% of the state’s budget comes from taxes on oil.
- Dan Ritchey, T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® and INCENTIVE$ Pay Supplements Project Director