Legislation by Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen, of Modesto, and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D - San Diego), that seeks to provide a creative answer to the need to grow early education opportunities by harnessing the power of the private sector passed its first committee on Monday.
“The benefits of an early education are well-documented in terms of preparing students for greater success in school and in the workplace,” said Olsen. “Although the State provides access to early education programs, over 200,000 families are on a waiting list, because our counties are struggling to meet the demands of current enrollment trends.”
Olsen continued, “The public/private partnership created by AB 1161 would allow more low-income students to enter preschool, preparing them for academic success.”
AB 1161 establishes a five-year pilot program in which businesses are offered a 40-percent state tax credit for their investment in a California Preschool Investment Fund (CalPIF). Five counties, selected based on specified criteria, will be able to offer more spots in their early education programs as the State Preschool Program receives funding from CalPIF.
To ensure that this program will not bring added costs to the state, AB 1161 requires CalPIF to reimburse the State General Fund for administering the program, and for any tax credits distributed.
“We recognize that the State needs to figure out better ways to fund early education. With no additional costs to the State, this innovative program offers individuals and businesses a way to contribute significantly to expand the educational opportunities for California’s children,” said Assemblyman Marc Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga), co-author of AB 1161. “When we invest in the first five years of our children’s lives we are contributing to a lifetime of success.”
Children who attend preschool generally experience greater academic success and are more likely to pursue higher education. Economists have estimated that every dollar invested in early education provides as much as 16 dollars in community benefits, including increased income levels and tax revenues.
AB 1161 passed the Assembly Committee on Revenue & Taxation on a 9 to 0 vote and will be heard in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations in the coming weeks.