Early Education Highlights from the 2017 Regular Legislative Session



Early Education Highlights from the 2017 Regular Legislative Session

1) School Readiness Tax Credits:

The most stunning victories involve these unique and effective tax credits that support quality in early care and education in our state.
 
Five bills were introduced that would have eliminated or reduced these credits, all of which were stopped.
-Roundtable member Dr. Phillip Rozeman’s work with a Shreveport legislator who sponsored of one of these bills was key to halting it from advancing.
 
Not only were these credits preserved, but the funding allocated to them was increased by over $5 million, a 30% increase! In a session marked by cuts and budget deficits, this is a stunning victory. See SR 209 and HR 217, which define the additional funds and express the legislative will of how they should be spent.
-Senator JP Morrell led the effort to increase this funding, and Representative Cameron Henry played a critical role.
-Roundtable member Tony Ligi and the Jefferson Business Council, as well as Todd Murphy and the Jefferson Chamber, were instrumental in gaining Rep. Henry’s support.
 
2) Early Childhood Education Fund:
HB 584 (passed and sent to the Governor) by Walt Leger III creates a Louisiana Early Childhood Education Fund to provide a 1:2 state match for funding by local entities for certain early childhood education programs.
-Although no funding was appropriated this year, the legislation does provide a structure that hopefully will be funded in future years.
-Many of you responded to our Action Alert and helped influence this legislation to provide a new potential avenue of funding for early learning programs in Louisiana.
 
3) The Budget:
Since the Regular Session closed without the Legislature passing the state operating and construction budgets, we are now in Special Session. House Bill 1, the operating budget of the state, as it passed out of the House this week, maintains the roughly 2% cut for the Pre-K Programs that was included during the Regular Session. These cuts reflect the 2% across the board cuts made throughout the departments.
-We are grateful that the cuts to Pre-K were not more drastic but disappointed that the budget did not include any restoration of the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which has been cut by almost 70% over the last eight years. We will continue to prioritize the restoration of CCAP in future months, and hope you will join us in these efforts.