State HouseYesterday, The Massachusetts House Ways and Means (HWM) Committee released its recommendations for $33.8 billion in state appropriations for the fiscal year 2014 (FY14) budget. The proposal represents a 3.88% increase in spending over FY13.

Overall funding for the Department of Early Education and Care is at $472 million, down from $488 million in FY13.

In his letter about the proposal, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brian Dempsey states,“In the area of early education, the House proposal takes a firm stand on reforming the agencies tasked with fostering safe educational environments for our youngest citizens. We establish a special commission to examine the need for greater, affordable, quality early education and care services and to determine methods for addressing the high cost of such services.”

The HWM budget recommendation does not fund the $131 million in new investments proposed in Governor Deval Patrick’s fiscal year 2014 budget recommendation that he released in January.

 Carolyn Lyons, President and Chief Executive Officer of Strategies for Children, issued the following statement:

 “It is critical that we make new investments in early education to close the achievement gap. The House Ways and Means budget released today decreases funding for early education by $15.8 million. While we acknowledge and appreciate the Committee’s proposal to ensure efficiency and timely placement of children in high-quality education programs, Massachusetts has a stagnant and costly achievement gap which has remained intractable over the last decade. According to the 2012 MCAS results, 40% of Massachusetts third graders are not proficient in reading, a critical predictor of future academic success. We will not close this gap until we invest more in high-quality early education. Research shows that children from low-income families who enroll in high-quality early education and care are 40% less likely to be retained a grade or require special education, 30% more likely to graduate high school and twice as likely to attend a four-year college.  We look forward to working with the Legislature as the budget process continues.”

Click here for more information about the HWM Committee’s recommendations for programs administered by the Department of Early Education and Care and for other line items related to high-quality early education.

State representatives have until Friday, April 12, at 5 p.m. to file amendments to the House Ways and Means budget. The House will begin debate on the budget the week of April 22.