In a June 23 front-page article, The Advocate reported that the Jindal administration was diverting $33 million in Gustav recovery dollars to the LA 4 program. This diversion was to partially replace some $41 million in federal stimulus funding used for the program last year. In that article, an administration spokesman responded to a question about the need for federal approval by saying that the administration was still working out those details.
In Jordan Blum’s Sept. 30 column, Blum writes that the state is now seeking federal approval to use $21 million in Gustav recovery funding at the same time that it is seeking more federal cost sharing for Hurricane Isaac. Blum quotes U.S. Sen. David Vitter on the Gustav matter as saying, “This is not a hurricane recovery expense in any way, shape for form.
LA 4, the Cecil J. Picard Early Childhood Program, is a critically important program for at risk four-year old children. It operated with more than $80 million in state funds in prior years, has been cut to less than $76 million with only $13 million of that coming from state funds in the current year. And, into the second quarter of the fiscal year, there remains a question about whether some of the federal funds (whether $33 million or $21 million) can be used.
Research has shown the connection between high-quality early childhood education and later school success. Surely LA 4 is sufficiently important to the efforts to improve education in our state for it to receive recurring state general funds.
Ken Hinrichs, executive director
Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families
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