Lisa Blais: Money Flows To Campaigns + Cuts Off Kids
Thursday, August 29, 2013
It’s not often that I agree with Providence Journal writer Bob Kerr’s take on political issues. But, when he wrote about the inequities of the currency of politics by comparing the cuts to Head Start and the cash flowing with the influence peddlers, as described in a book This Town by Mark Leibovich, I knew he was right.
Head Start is a program that began in the sixties aimed to provide early learning opportunities, daycare, dental and medical screenings and in some cases meals and transportation for the littlest among us living in poverty. Infants and toddlers across the country have benefited from the state level programs. As a result of the so-called “sequestration” Rhode Island’s Head Start program will turn away between 300 and 400 kids this school year. Their budget is cut by about one million dollars. In the scheme of things, this is an outrage.
Political currency is out of whack. The doors of educational opportunity will be closed on hundreds of RI children (they are among approximately 57,000 kids across the country locked out of Head Start programs) while our RI congressional delegation sits on bundles of money in their campaign coffers and certainly in their private coffers. Same goes for some of Rhode Island’s gubernatorial candidates who enjoy six and seven digit account balances accumulated in their quest to run for governor of our state.
Head Start is funded with taxpayers’ revenue, a great use of that hard earned money. This prompted thoughts about the taxpayer revenue flowing into our own State House to support the RI Legislature’s budget. No one is hurting there. Over a 52-week period of time, approximately eight hundred thousand dollars flows in to pay for the legislature’s “business.” Eight hundred thousand dollars give or take, every week! Take a look at the 2014 budget and specifically the Legislature’s budget. You will see that there is about thirty seven million in general revenue in their coffers. There is plenty of money to go around for our part time legislature.
A little push
So, do we hear anything productive from the congressional delegation, well-funded gubernatorial candidates, and state leadership in response to Head Start’s shortfall? Nope, just silence. It would be refreshing to hear political leaders who have the financial means to band together to offer a solution for RI toddlers, perhaps offering to cover the costs for them to participate in Head Start’s pre-school program this school year.
Pie in the sky? OSTPA thinks that prodding our elected officials to step out of the box and actually do something to help RI’s Head Start program this year would be refreshing and worthwhile. So, we challenge our congressional delegation, those well-funded candidates for governor and the Speaker of the House and Senate President to dig deep into their coffers to sponsor as many of the hundreds of kids that need those early learning opportunities now. One million dollars is all it takes to help our children. Will those in leadership positions step up to the plate? Time will tell.
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