Federal Legislative Update – February 14, 2011

President’s Budget Good for Early Learning
But Head Start Funding Remains in Jeopardy
Happy Valentine’s Day…Sort Of

President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2012

Ok let’s start with the good news and give you a big dose of Valentine’s Day cheer.  The President clearly continues to be one of our biggest champions.  In his budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 he is seeking an $866 million increase for Head Start.  He proposes an increase of $1.3 billion to support child care subsidies, tries one more time to establish an early learning challenge fund, and seeks $150 million for the continuation of Promise Neighborhoods.

The budget proposed today also expands his signature Race to the Top initiative and increases funding for an array of education programs, attempts to sustain funding for Pell Grants, and consolidates and eliminates many narrowly focused educational and job training programs.  In order to maintain discretionary spending at current year levels he proposes to cut back several critical programs that impact the families we work with, including low income fuel assistance and funding to support community action agencies.

Already House and Senate Republicans have said that the President’s proposal is dead on arrival and continue to push for big cuts to education and health care programs in order to get the budget and eventually the deficit under control.  As you know, this is the beginning of the process and not the end.  While the two sides differ in their approaches it is too early to tell how it will all play out.  Once the 2011 funding bill is complete, the 2012 budget process will begin in Congress.  To view the budget proposal click here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Overview/

2011 Fiscal Year

For Head Start programs, directors, staff, parents, and children the big fight on funding is here and now.  The continuing resolution (CR) expires March 4th.  House Republicans have put forth their budget for the CR.  It would gut funding for many education and human services programs including WIC, funding for homeless families, and Head Start.  They propose in their budget to cut Head Start by $1.1 billion—equivalent of cutting almost 200,000 children from the program and laying-off 50,000 staff.   According to the National Head Start Association, in Washington State it would mean that 2,722 children would lose service and 908 staff would lose their jobs on October 1.   The full House is expected to vote on this budget later on this week.  The Senate will take up their budget after the congressional recess next week.

Two Action Steps Needed

We need your help! Please take two steps this week:

  1. Go to www.supportheadstart.org and send an email to your member of Congress asking them to oppose cuts to Head Start.
  2. Contact your member of Congress and invite them and/or their staff to visit your program next week.