Sunday, August 24, 2008

A State Without a Budget: Day 55 - FIRST 5 PROGRAM THREATENED

Editorial from La Opinión | Translation by La Opinión

Sunday 25 August  7;30 PM -- The Sacramento budget stalemate continues given the Republican refusal to consider a tax increase, whether proposed by the Democrats or the governor himself, as part of the package to address the state’s more than $15-billion deficit.

The Republican minority’s proposal is to cut spending, put the state in debt, and use funds already allocated by voters in ballot initiatives to specific areas—including preschool education—for other purposes. This is the case with the First 5 program.

Research shows that the first years of a child’s life are critical for our future development. First 5 aims to serve the needs of low-income, predominantly Latino children, in terms of health and education. The funds allocated by Proposition 10 to support First 5 are derived from a cigarette tax.

Now, using the deficit as an excuse, this initiative is targeted for elimination by a Republican bill, which would divert part of the First 5 funds to Healthy Families. Another Republican proposal wants to use undisbursed funds from the ballot initiative to cover general spending.

A conservative block in the State Capitol has always rejected the important work of First 5, charging that it aids undocumented children. Now this contention is masked behind the exigencies of the budget’s red ink.

The refusal to increase state revenues has a purpose beyond its purported principles: to serve as a vehicle to force unpopular, detrimental policies on California, such as eliminating a program like First 5, which is building our state’s future. We believe First 5 should continue to be supported.


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