Transitional kindergarten funding spared under Democrats’ budget

06.15.2012 | Los Angeles Times | Anthony York

Money for programs aimed at getting youngsters ready for kindergarten will be spared the budget ax under a proposal expected to be passed by state lawmakers Friday.

Gov. Jerry Brown called for the elimination of $132 million for transitional kindergarten programs, which aim to help children who are not ready for regular kindergarten. Legislative Democrats are refusing to go along with the governor’s recommendation, keeping that money in their budget proposal.

Lawmakers are expected to pass an overall spending plan Friday afternoon.

In recent years, California has moved toward an earlier cutoff age for kindergarten. Students must now have their 5th birthday by September instead of Dec. 2. That keeps thousands of California children out of kindergarten an extra year, and saves the state money.

It also creates demand for public child-care services, with fewer children eligible for public school.

Transitional kindergarten is one of the child-care programs that Brown targeted for elimination and Democrats are fighting to save. They are also wrangling with the governor over proposed cuts to welfare and college financial aid programs.

Both the Assembly and state Senate are expected to pass a budget later Friday, but indications from the governor’s office are that negotiations will continue over the next two weeks. Brown is not expected to immediately sign or veto the Democrats’ budget, according to administration sources.

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