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So who’s paying for that child-care program anyway?

November 17, 2010 |  5:31 pm

It would seem simple enough.

Advocates and the state Department of Education have agreement to a settlement of a lawsuit trying to block the elimination of a state child-care program for 60,000 low-income parents. Under the agreement, the program will continue through Dec. 31.

So who’s picking up the tab?

H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Department of Finance, said the agreement would have “zero” effect on the budget.

How’s that?

Because, Palmer said, the program will be supported by outside funds raised by legislative Democrats through the end of next month. That money includes $6 million from the operating budget of Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and $34 million procured from various county-level First 5 Commissions, which provide preschool services.

Chris Woods, Pérez's budget advisor, said the Finance Department was "simply wrong on their claim that the judge's order will be paid solely by Assembly and First 5 funds."

"Our staff has reviewed the stipulation, and there is no mention of alternative funding sources. Therefore, the cost is a state responsibility," Woods said.

So what does the Department of Education, which administers the program, think?

“We actually don’t know at this point,” said Hilary McLean, a spokeswoman for state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, one of the parties to the settlement.

 -- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento