We’ve Fought Hard… Here’s What’s Next!
First, some really good news. The $85 million that we all fought so hard for has been fully restored and included in Governor Northam’s 2021 budget! Thanks to the legislature during the special session and the CARES Act federal relief funds for helping to secure this historic investment for our children. The havoc wreaked on an already fragile early education system by the health crisis exposed the desperate need for consistent and stable funding for our children, families, teachers and early learning programs (Head Start, private and the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI).
We have more work to do to assure children and families have access to quality programs and begin to close the opportunity gap in the Commonwealth. WE ALL MUST SUPPORT THE GOVERNOR’S EARLY ED BUDGET PRIORITIES. Looking to secure long-term funding, the E3: Elevate Early Education Board, the administration and advocates studied how other states leverage tax revenues to help fund early education. Governor Northam’s legalization of marijuana bill asserts that 40% of tax revenue should go toward equitable access for at-risk three and four-year-olds. This would give more than 20,000 children and families access to quality programs.
According to the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC, 2020), legalization has the potential to generate $300m in tax revenue over five years depending on the tax rate. In other states, it has been a careful balance of using tax funds and community investments to generate revenue for the public good. And, we know that we need to strike that balance in Virginia.
No matter where you stand on legalization, our children, families and early learning programs need dedicated funding NOW. And we need to continue making quality early education a top priority, building a strong educational foundation for our children that begins at birth.