Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill on Sunday that would have made kindergarten mandatory for all California kids. If AB1973/SB70 had passed, children would have been required to complete one year of kindergarten before enrolling in first grade starting in the 2024-25 school year.
After touting what he has already done for expanded education with the Learning Opportunities Program as well as setting aside $4 billion of the 2022 Budget Act for the “historic” Expanded Learning Opportunities Program, Newson wrote to the members of the California State Assembly that “this bill will create ongoing and one-time costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars to support school facilities and operational costs.”
Newsom added, “With our state facing lower-than-expected revenues over the first few months of this fiscal year, it is important to remain disciplined when it comes to spending, particularly spending that is ongoing.”
Not only was the mandatory kindergarten bill too pricey to sign, Newsom admonished legislators that they should have put on their accounting visors and owned up to that reality that going in.
“The Legislature sent measures with potential costs of well over $20 billion in one-time spending commitments and more than $10 billion in ongoing commitments not accounted for in the state budget,” Newsom wrote. “Bills with significant fiscal impact, such as this measure, should be considered and accounted for in the annual budget process. For these reasons, I cannot sign this bill.
Many educators, of course, are big fans of kindergarten. Golden Empire Elementary School kindergarten teacher Carla Randazzo finds that first-grade students who didn’t go to kindergarten have a more difficult time ahead of them.
“Those kids just start out having to climb uphill,” Randazzo told CBS News. “They need a lot of support to be successful.”
Children who develop their social and emotional competence by the time they reach kindergarten age can be more likely to go to college, according to a 2015 study by the American Public Health Association, according to the network.
This isn’t California’s first attempt to require kindergarten—former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill in 2014.
Kindergarten is currently mandatory in 19 states.