AB 43 Will Increase Education Funding to Decrease Our Prison Population

East County Today   ·   Link to Article

Sacramento – Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D- Richmond) introduced legislation that will provide a revenue stream for large scale programs known to prevent incarceration such as preschool and after-school programs. Assembly Bill 43 will assess a tax on for-profit companies including private prisons that contract with state prison facilities to provide goods or services.

“It is our obligation to support our youth. Early education programs make a profound impact in a child’s life. These programs have the ability to excite children about learning and strengthen a student’s engagement in school, while helping them set higher educational goals for themselves, said Assemblymember Tony Thurmond. “The purpose of this bill is to educate and not incarcerate our youth by investing in programs that directly benefit children.”

Studies show that access to high-quality preschool programs results in a 20% lower likelihood of incarceration.  Preschool attendance also leads to an increased likelihood of attending a four-year college and higher lifetime income earnings compared to those who do not attend preschool.

“Children who start kindergarten behind, are more likely to stay behind – a trend that feeds into the school-to-prison pipeline,” said Moira Kenney, Executive Director of the First 5 Association of California. “Early interventions like quality child care and preschool can break this cycle and put children on a path that leads to success in school and in life.”

Companies continue to profit as a result of high state incarceration rates.  These for-profit companies provide goods and services to state facilities, at a markup.  In effect, taxpayers are stuck footing the bill while these companies see large profits for goods and services due to California’s prison population.

California spends huge amounts to incarcerate prisoners. Current active contracts between for-profit companies and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation total approximately $4.5 billion.  In comparison, the state spends relatively little on programs known to prevent incarceration.

Attempts to invest heavily in incarceration prevention programs have been stymied by budget concerns. This was made all the more clear given this year’s proposed “pause” of the planned increase in preschool slots. Without a permanent non-budgetary funding source, these efforts are unlikely to experience continued success.

“While we may have paused the preschool slot increase, life did not pause for the more than 3000 children who will not attend preschool this year and will suffer the associated consequences,” said Thurmond. “AB 43 will provide an additional funding mechanism outside the state budget to keep children on the proper path.”

First 5 Association of California, The Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Partnership for Children and Youth, and SEIU California are in support of this bill.

Assemblymember Tony Thurmond represents the 15th Assembly District, comprised of the cities of Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Emeryville, Hercules, Kensington, Piedmont, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo, Tara Hills, and a portion of Oakland.