State Budget is Complete…Sort of
by School's Out Washington | | Posted under
Going into its third special session, the Washington State Legislature finally wrapped up the 2015-17 budget, at least we think. As we said in our last post before the budget was finalized, there are some good things for afterschool and summer programs:
- The Early Achievers School Age Quality Pilot was included in the Early Start Act (House Bill 1491) and the budget. The goal of the pilot is to increase quality in licensed school-age (5-12) child care programs. It will be developed by the state’s education and early learning departments with input from the afterschool and summer field. SOWA will be closely monitoring the development of the pilot.
- The potential $8 million cut to the Working Connections Child Care Subsidy program and the proposed elimination of the statewide child care information and referral system were thwarted thanks to all the letters of support advocates statewide sent their legislators. Both programs remain funded and intact.
- The Youth Recreational Fund, which helps fund building construction costs was increased to over $7.3 million over the two year budget cycle.
- Funding for afterschool mentoring was included in the budget and will support five sites over the next two years.
While the legislature passed and the governor signed the budget, there was a bit of a challenge that followed. Critical to making the budget work was suspending Initiative 1351. This initiative had a goal of reducing class size and increasing the number of other supportive school staff. The initiative also came with a $2 billion price tag and no dedicated funding source. The House voted to suspend the initiative, but the Senate could not get the two-thirds majority. The Senate will try to vote on the suspension again, and until then it is unclear what it would mean if they have to find funding for the initiative. More to come.
While these modest gains will improve the quality and scope of existing afterschool programs, it will do nothing to increase access children and youth have to afterschool and summer. Over the summer and fall we will be gearing up for the next legislative session and with your help will create momentum for a big win for kids afterschool and in the summer. But the key to success is you.
If you are interested in learning more about advocacy and educating legislators (example: bringing them to visit your program or your child’s program), please email SOWA Education Policy and Advocacy Director David Beard at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also be notified about future policy updates by signing up for our Action Alerts. Learn more about Action Alerts here, or Sign up now to add your voice!
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