YAY!!! Starting a compost pile!!
Yes, last year's leaves are great in the compost pile. I am still using the ones I collected last fall... went around picking up other people's leaves that they had kindly bagged up and put out at the curb for me. Brought 8-10 bags of them home.
The kitchen scraps + leaves makes a good balance of greens + browns (read the sticky at the beginning of this forum), which is what you are looking for. As you keep going with the compost pile, you will find more and more things you can add...