Governor Cooper Releases Strong Budget Proposal to Support Young Children and Families

Governor Cooper’s 2021-2023 budget proposal, released this week, includes important supports for young children and families in the areas of birth to third grade education, health and development, and family supports. The proposal does not include incoming federal funds from the recently-passed American Rescue Plan, which will be allocated later.

Check out NCECF’s easy-to-read summary of key early childhood provisions in the Governor’s budget proposal.

Highlights include:

  • Earned Income Tax Credit and Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to support low-income families.
  • Investments in NC Pre-K, Smart Start, and child care subsidies
  • Salary increases and recruitment and retention supports for both early educators and K-12 educators, administrators, and staff
  • Funds dedicated o eliminating preschool expulsions
  • Science of Reading training for teachers
  • Early Intervention funding increases
  • Closing the health insurance coverage gap

The Governor also signaled his support for the 8-year plan recently submitted to the court to meet the requirements of the Leandro ruling. The proposed budget includes the following language:

“The Comprehensive Remedial Plan in Leandro v. State of North Carolina outlines the actions the state must take to meet its constitutional obligation of ensuring every student has access to a sound basic education. The Governor is committed to pursuing the policy and programmatic changes outlined in the Plan and to providing the resources necessary to achieve the actions in the Plan over the next biennium and in future fiscal years (…)

To do this, the Governor’s Recommended Budget includes $585.6 million in funding for FY 2021-22 and $1.0 billion for FY 2022-23 to improve teacher quality and support, provide additional resources for students with the greatest need, increase Local Education Agency (LEA) budgetary flexibility, ensure students are college and career ready, and strengthen early childhood education and supports.”

Next up, the Senate will release its budget proposal, followed by the House, and then a conference budget.