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Go Ask Mom

MomsRising: A bad state budget for kids

Posted July 17, 2012

Pre-kindergarten generic, Smart Start

There’s no sugarcoating it: The final budget approved by the N.C. General Assembly is bad for children and families.

Our lawmakers had a choice to renew our investments in the programs that help N.C. children grow up strong and healthy. Unfortunately, they chose to continue on a path that includes harsh cuts to education, infant mortality, tobacco prevention, and fails to restore funding for essential early learning programs that prepare children to succeed in school and life.

Below is a brief rundown of the budget’s impacts on children and families, courtesy of our friends at the Covenant with N.C.’s Children, Action for Children, the N.C. Partnership for Children, and the N.C. Justice Center.

  • Education: The final budget leaves K-12 schools across the state with $190 million less than they had last year when cuts resulted in the loss of 915 teachers and 2,042 teaching assistants.
  • N.C. Pre-K: Lawmakers failed to provide any additional funding for N.C. Pre-K, the program which helps prepare students to enter school ready to learn. As a result, the program will continue to have waiting lists of at-risk children. On the positive side, the state would no longer require a parent co-payment for children served by the program and clarifies that chronic health conditions and developmental disabilities can be used to determine eligibility.
  • Smart Start: While the budget fails to make significant reinvestments in Smart Start following a 20 percent cut last year, it raises the possibility that the state would invest $3.5 million in Smart Start for an early literacy program and assistance to ensure that children in rural communities have access to early childhood programs if the funds aren’t needed for Medicaid. Unfortunately, Medicaid is typically in the red, making it unlikely that Smart Start would receive this funding.
  • Child Care Subsidy: The state would decrease its investment in child care subsidy, replacing $7 million of state funds with federal funds. Overall, the funding for child care subsidy remains flat. Therefore, many low-income, working families will remain on waiting lists to receive assistance in affording child care.
  • Health Care: On a positive note, N.C. Health Choice (the state health insurance program for children) was funded at current levels and open enrollment should continue. Estimations are that enrollment will increase from the current 148,000 children to 153,000. Unfortunately, funds for smoking prevention and cessation were deeply cut, receiving only $2.7 million in non-recurring funds out of the $17.3 million needed to maintain current efforts.
  • Infant Mortality: An important high-risk pregnancy clinic at ECU serving over 7,000 women had its funding restored. Funding was also renewed for the 17-Progesterone program which helps prevent pre-term birth in low-income women with a previous history and for the March of Dimes programs aimed at preventing birth defects. Unfortunately, the state grant for the Healthy Start Foundation, a key piece of North Carolina’s infant mortality prevention infrastructure, was cut. It’s unclear how and if the foundation will continue to function. This cut led to the loss of almost $300,000 in federal matching funds.
  • Foster Care: The state’s foster care program received a $6.67 million recurring cut.

The final budget increases total funding for state government by just over one percent when compared to the budget approved last year. The Governor's proposed budget increased funding by 4.9 percent. The legislative budget does not include the temporary sales tax increase that allowed the Governor to invest more heavily in public education.

All of these cuts will have real and immediate impacts on the children of North Carolina as well as long-term impacts for their futures and our state’s future. As lawmakers hit the campaign trail this fall, I hope you’ll join me in asking them to explain their votes on the budget and urging them to stand up for N.C.’s children going forward.

Beth Messersmith is the Campaign Director for NC MomsRising and a Durham mother of two.

10 Comments

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  • thought_criminal Jul 18, 2012

    @ 1:56 storchheim said it said it so I don't have to.

    Beth Messersmith, I'll take your answer to 'why more education spending does nothing to make kids smarter' any time now.

    Tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • storchheim Jul 18, 2012

    arasmith, "we" do not have to support generation after generation of people who can't afford and don't care about their kids. Someone who has kids they can't pay for, does not love them. Put the responsibility on THEM. Stop excusing and romanticizing St. Singlemom, and cut off all welfare - including pre-k and Smart Start (unless the parent pays for it entirely and out of pocket) - to anyone who has a baby while on welfare. Your head will spin upon seeing the number of "those in need" drop like a lead weight.

  • thought_criminal Jul 18, 2012

    Oh brother, more leftist pablum from Momsrising.

    Hey, Beth Messersmith, answer me this. D.C. spends $18,000 per pupil per year and yet their student performance is ATROCIOUS. Proficiency for elementary and secondary reading and math is in the 40% range across the board.

    Spending more money does not improve education which should be the goal of a school system. Spending more money just props up your pet progressive social engineering projects. Haven't you all done enough damage to society?

  • arasmith2003 Jul 18, 2012

    I don't believe that this blog was geared towards political propoganda. We all have a responsiblity to protect those in our communities that can not fend or provide for themselves whether it be children or adults. I will not disagree with the system being flawed but I don't think the right way to correct it is to cut programs that provide BASIC LIFE ESSENTIALS to many who can not obtain them themselves, I think it is just a lazy way. We are lucky enough to live in a democracy where we, as citizens, are able to steer how our leaders run this nation and I believe most of us have become apathetic.

  • computer trainer Jul 18, 2012

    I agree with alisonbeavers86, we cannot pay for everybody to have everything. It is time for some serious budgeting. Many of these early programs are little more than babysitting services for parents who are already getting welfare. I would prefer to see that we teach these parents to be parents and educate their own children. Before my children went to school, I was their teacher. I taught them their colors, ABC's, numbers, adding, subtracting, weather, months of the year. Sorry, but if people cannot do that little for their children, then they should not have children. It takes work to raise children. You cannot bring them into this world and then expect to get that check and everyone else DO FOR YOU! The Entitlement mentality is what got the US in the mess that we are in already.

  • americaneel Jul 18, 2012

    Stick to kiddy talk, not politics.

  • dlblackm Jul 18, 2012

    If the budget increased by 1% and the above areas were cut, what areas were increased?

  • rabbitrabbit Jul 18, 2012

    We can't pay for everyone to have "everything?" Health care and education are necessities. Children are the ones here that are affected. It's not their fault they're considered at-risk or low-income, but they're the ones who suffer from these cuts. Why wouldn't we want our kids to go to school with healthy, happy, educated kids who have the chance to reach their full potential as adults? We *all* benefit from that!

  • alisonbeavers86 Jul 17, 2012

    Although I disagree with your posting as I think not all the facts are posted, I do believe you have the freedom to speak your mind as this is your blog. :) My oldest of three will be starting Kind. this fall and have been paying close attention to the budget and school decisions. Unfortunately we can't pay for everybody to have everything and I think they did the best they could.

  • pooka Jul 17, 2012

    GOASKMOM, I liked your portion of this website.... DISLIKE now that you are discussing and/or posting political opinions.