Anticipated cuts in state subsidies for child care got the attention of a Senate panel today. In April, the Beshear Administration says thousands of families will no longer qualify for state assistance with their childcare…eventually effecting over 14-thousand kids. The state doesn’t have the money to maintain those subsidies at current levels. But instead of cutting child care, Gerry Roll, who directs the Foundation for Appalachia Kentucky, says state officials should closely evaluate funding for early childhood education.
“I’m asking you not to spend one more dime on early childhood until this system that takes care of 65 percent of our children every day. 65 percent of our children every day are in a child care setting every single day. Until that system is on solid footing, we should not spent another dime on early childhood,” said Roll.
Jack Burch, who directs Lexington’s Community Action Council, says the cuts could put more Kentucky kids in ‘underground, unlicensed’ care centers.
Teresa James, who’s the Commissioner for Community Based Services, called these cuts the hardest to make in her career.
“The real impact I believe will actually come on July first, which on July first is when we reduce the eligibility for assistance,” added James.
While several lawmakers expressed concern, they also claim their hands are tied. Since they’re in a short session, Committee Chair Julie Denton says it would take a special vote to re-open the state budget. And, Denton says the votes just aren’t there. But, the Louisville lawmaker says it might be taken up later this year, if the general assembly is called into a special session.
“I believe with the timing that’s out there and the population that’s being targeted, may be such to put pressure on us to have a special session to address tax reform,” said Denton.
While expressing support for the child care services, Lebanon Senator Jimmy
Higdon also worries about fraud and wasteful spending.