An analysis of gubernatorial budget proposals finds a bipartisan push among state executives to spend more state resources on early childhood programs. In all, the analysis by progressive think tank Center for American Progress found some $2.9 billion has been proposed by governors to fund things like full-day kindergarten and child-care subsidies.
The figure represents almost one-third of federal yearly spending on Head Start, and more than seven times that of the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.
The bulk of the spending proposals focus on preschool programs.
In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey is one of 17 governors – two Democrats, 15 Republicans – to propose no new state spending on early childhood programs.
While Ducey in January did propose spending $56 million for child-care subsidies, both to increase reimbursement rates to providers and allow roughly 5,100 more families to receive them, that money isn’t from Arizona taxpayers. Rather, it is Arizona’s share of federal money that was given to the states in 2018, but that the legislature didn’t spend last year.
Tax dollars in Arizona do go to fund early childhood programs, but not under the auspices of the legislature. Voters in 2006 approved a tax on tobacco products to fund First Things First, which uses that money to provide grants for early childhood education, health and development. In the last fiscal year, First Things First spent more than $133 million on programs and services.