Counties Support Accelerated Eligibility for Subsidized Pre-K, Request State Funding

On February 22, 2023, Associate Policy Director Brianna January testified before the House Ways and Means Committee in support of HB 770 – Publicly Funded Full-Day Prekindergarten Program – Tier I Child – Alteration of Definition with amendments.

The Senate Rules Committee is due to consider the bill’s cross-file, SB 913, though the Committee has set no hearing date as of writing.

HB 770 alters the definition of a “Tier I child” who may be enrolled in a fully publicly-subsidized prekindergarten program to include children with disabilities, children who are homeless, and children who are from homes in which English is not the primary spoken language.
While unequivocally noble in intent, the bill as drafted places a costly, unfunded mandate on school systems and county governments in order to expedite the phased-in expansion of universal pre-K — a full fiscal year ahead of the phased-in schedule set in The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.
As such, counties seek an amendment requiring the State to fund the additional fully subsidized pre-K students under HB 770.

From the MACo Testimony:

Currently, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future law (“The Blueprint”) provides a phased-in approach to expanding Tier 1 pre-K, allowing county boards of education and local governments − as fiduciary partners − appropriate time to plan for doing so. Current law would extend the Tier I definition to include three and four-year olds with disabilities, experiencing homelessness, and from non-English speaking homes for FY25. HB 770 would eliminate this phase-in and would count these children for the coming year, FY24, meaning effects on the State budget plan already proposed, but also for county budgets already amidst preparation.

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