After 15 weeks across four legislative sessions, the Louisiana Legislature adjourned on Sunday with a budget deal that shields most agencies from hefty cuts. The compromise came in a sales tax bill that renews 0.45 percent of an expiring 1 percent sales tax. The state sales tax rate will fall from 5 percent to 4.45 percent on July 1 and stay there until mid-2025.
What does this mean for early childhood education programs? A summary of the ultimate outcomes of the 2018 Legislative Sessions is below.
State Funding for Pre-K Programs Will Remain Level
Without the funding generated by renewing a portion of the sales tax, the Louisiana Department of Education would have seen substantial cuts to its budget. At risk was 45 percent of funding for LA 4, which currently serves around 16,000 four year olds statewide, and all of the funding for the Nonpublic School Early Childhood Development (NSECD) Program, which serves an additional 1,400 four year olds statewide.
The budget compromise means funding for Louisiana Pre-K Programs will remain level. In addition, the fact that the sales tax will continue for another seven years should provide stability for Louisiana’s budget in general, and the Pre-K Programs in particular.
New Federal Funds Will Add Slots to the Child Care Assistance Program
The budget includes $28 million of new federal funds for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), the only state administered program for early care and education for children under age four in Louisiana. CCAP provides subsidies for child care for low-income children whose parents are working, in school or in job training. The new dollars should fund over 4,000 children, of the current 5,200 children, on the waiting list, and represents the first substantial increase in CCAP funding in nine years.
Your Efforts Are Having an Impact!
There was great momentum during the legislative sessions around early care and education. The topic was a consistent part of the conversation, with more legislators than ever before articulating its importance and the need to invest in it.
The Louisiana Early Childhood Business Roundtable played a significant role in making this happen. We are grateful to all of our Roundtable members for your support over the last six months and your dedication to the children of Louisiana. We look forward to your continued involvement as we work to expand access to high quality early care and education for the young children of our state.