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Judge halts elimination of day-care program

October 29, 2010 |  6:11 pm

Tens of thousands of low-income parents won't have their state-subsidized child care eliminated Monday after an Alameda County Superior Court judge delayed the program's elimination by at least a week.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger eliminated funding for the day-care program, which serves working parents who were once on welfare but whose jobs do not pay enough for them to afford day care, when he signed the state budget earlier this month. The move was projected to save $256 million, which the governor wanted used to build up the state’s reserves.

But Judge Wynne Carvill halted the cut Friday, with a hearing set for Thursday.

"Families who were going to find themselves without any options on Monday can now breathe a sigh of relief," said Melissa Rodgers, an attorney for the Child Care Law Center, which is among the groups that filed the suit.

They argued the cutback was illegal because the state should have automatically placed parents on other subsidized day-care programs if they were eligible.

Top Democrats in Sacramento have decried Schwarzenegger's day-care veto and promised to try to restore the money when a new governor takes office in January. Otherwise, they say, roughly 60,000 families will be pushed back onto the welfare rolls or forced to leave their children unwatched.

Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) has offered $6 million of his house's own operating budget to bridge the funding gap until January and is hoping local First 5 commissions -- which fund preschool programs with voter-approved cigarette taxes -- will do the same.

The judge's delay "makes our job of finding temporary funding a little bit easier," Perez said Friday.

Earlier this month, the state Supreme Court ruled that the governor had broad authority to veto state spending. The current case does not question that power but instead revolves around how the cut is being implemented.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento