After school programs in low-income California neighborhoods would get a $73 million boost under a bill in the state Legislature.
The bill would increase state payments and adjust other funding levels which, supporters of the legislation say, have been flat for years despite rising costs and increased demand. Advocates say stagnant funding will make it harder to attract the best staff.
"As minimum wage continues to increase, the funding will also need to increase in order to ensure quality," says Jeff Davis with the California Afterschool Network.
Democratic Assemblyman Jim Cooper of Elk Grove wrote the legislation to expand funding for after school programs. He's a former captain in the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.
"It would increase funding for it, right now because of the minimum wage increase," says Cooper. "And over the years, funding has dropped so some programs have closed or they've reduced actual classes in the program We want to make sure they're at full strength. As a 30 year law enforcement veteran, I realize how important it is to keep our kids busy after school."
There is no organized opposition to Cooper's bill.
State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson is encouraging the legislature to pass the bill. Today he'll be visiting the robotics lab at John F. Kennedy High School in Sacramento to showcase the benefits of after school programs.
State voters approved the creation of California's After School Education and Safety Program in 2002 by approving Proposition 49. The current funding level for the program is $550 million.