A Big Week for Kansas Kids

It may seem like the calm before the storm for early childhood funding in Kansas, but the cold front blowing wintery weather into Topeka this week coincides with a flurry of activity impacting key funding decisions in the 2015 Kansas Legislative Session.  The week will leave its mark on state support for early childhood programs beginning with Consensus Revenue Estimates (CRE) for the state on Monday and ending with the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund Children’s Initiatives Fund (CIF) recommendations to the governor on Friday.

State law requires the Kansas State General Fund budget to be based on the official revenue estimates known as the CREs.  In a past position I served in the group tasked with making the CREs and I remember intense hours analyzing and discussing projected revenues for the state knowing important state priorities laid in the balance. Now as an advocate, I worry that the anticipated drop in projected revenues will result in funding or program cuts that will negatively impact young Kansas children.  The largest expenditure of the State General Fund is for public education, so education funding cuts are a particular concern – especially given the importance of the K-3rd grade years for early literacy.

At the end of the week, the Children’s Cabinet will meet to make recommendations on funding priorities for the CIF.  This source of funding provides some level of support for almost every early childhood care and education program in the state.    A scheduled reduction in the tobacco payments that supply the CIF as well as a need to bolster programs that have received flat funding since 2007 make the CIF recommendations particularly far-reaching this year.

Our job as advocates for the youngest and most vulnerable Kansans may get tougher this week.  Let’s respond by making our voices louder and our resolve stronger to ensure that Kansas children get the best start possible.

April Holman – executive director

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