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Transitional kindergarten could be spared budget cuts [PolitiCal]

03.13.2012 | Los Angeles Times | Chris Megerian

Another one of Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposals has run aground in the Assembly.

The education finance subcommittee voted Tuesday to reject the
elimination of transitional kindergarten, an extra year of school for
children too young or unprepared for regular kindergarten.

Citing research on the importance of early childhood education,
advocates of transitional kindergarten have said the program will pay
dividends because students will be better prepared down the line. The
program has been tested in various school districts and is scheduled to
be phased in statewide this fall.

Three Democrats on the panel voted to preserve the program; one Republican voted to cut it.

“Today’s action sent a very helpful message, both to districts and
parents who have been concerned, but also to the administration,” said
Sen. Joseph Simitian (D-Palo Alto), who wrote the bill creating
transitional kindergarten.

Since Brown unveiled his spending plan in early January, members of
his own party have repeatedly voted against some of his more
controversial proposals. Assembly subcommittees also rejected cuts to CalWORKs, the state welfare program, and Cal Grants state-funded scholarships.

H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for Brown’s Department of Finance, has
warned that lawmakers will need to find cuts elsewhere in the budget to
close a projected $9.2-billion deficit.

Top Democrats have said they want to wait until revised budget
numbers are available in May before deciding on steep cuts to government
programs.

— Chris Megerian in Sacramento
twitter.com/@chrismegerian

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