Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and former Gov. Tim Kaine is calling $81 million in "cuts" to the Virginia Preschool Initiative as proposed by Gov. Bob McDonnell in his two-year budget plan "fiscally unwise."
As governor Kainechampioned the program that offers public preschool classes to at-risk 4-year-old children in the commonwealth.
Kaine said the cuts will hurt Virginia families and the state itself in the long run in a press release Monday.
"The proposed removal of $81 million in funding from early childhood programs in the introduced biennial budget has the potential to hurt thousands of children and their families now and in the future," Kaine said. "It signals a retreat from Virginia's commitment to winning the battle for talent. And, it represents a short term approach to expense cutting that will actually prove fiscally unwise in the future.
"The more we do to help our youngest succeed, the more the Commonwealth succeeds. Saving at children's expense is always the wrong approach."
The McDonnell administration said the $81 million is not a cut, but a "targeted savings" realized by "readjusting" the expected enrollment in the program in fiscal years 2013 and 2014.
Secretary of Finance Ric Brown said when the Department of Education turned in it's budget request for the program to the governor's office it was based on an assumption that every eligible 4-year-old child in the state would participate.
What it didn't account for, Brown said, is families not taking part.
The savings were realized by adjusting the rate for "non-participation," Brown said.
Brown said McDonnell's proposed budget actually increases funding for the Virginia Preschool Initiative over fiscal year 2012 spending levels and does increase the number of available in the program.
The two-year budget proposal increase spending by $5 million in 2013 more than 2012 and $5.5 million in 2014, Brown said.