Some state representatives, siding with the research and the will of the people they represent, have boarded the quality pre-k train only to threaten to derail it in this, the first week of PA’s budget process.
This week, the PA House of Representatives passed House Bill 218, which includes cuts to programs that prepare the state’s earliest learners for success in school and life, as well as funding only a third of Governor Wolf’s modest $75 million pre-k budget proposal.
Businesses and families who rely on child care programs are in for a rude awakening when they see HB 218 cuts $28 million from last year’s budget, and amounts to $62 million less than the Governor’s proposal.
The cut to child care doubles the number of children on the waiting list for spots—that’s 11,000 more kids! If legislators say they’re for pre-k, how is slashing the very infrastructure for pre-k showing it?
“Pre-k doesn’t just benefit the children fortunate enough to access a high-quality program, it benefits the entire commonwealth,” said the principal partners of Pre-K for PA (of which PCCY is a founding member). “Research shows that every dollar invested in high-quality pre-k returns up to $17 in long-term savings and benefits through reduced costs to our schools and society, stronger earnings potential in our workforce and increased tax revenues supporting a more robust economy.”
It begs the question, if they know pre-k and early childhood investments are proven poverty-fighters, job creators, community builders, and cost-savers, how exactly is voting to slash funding helping those they represent?
Sources tell us at least a few representatives voted for HB 218 merely to keep the budget process moving forward, and not an indication that their commitment to children has dissolved. We must have missed the memo, the newsletter, the press release, the website message, the Facebook post or the tweet that said, “HB 218 screws kids, families, businesses—But we don’t mean it! #PreKforPA .”
If their votes in the legislature are meant to reflect the best interests of their constituents, we don’t think it’s too much to expect that when they vote contrary to the interests of the children and families, businesses, and neighborhoods of the districts they represent, that they explain why.
NOTE: We would be remiss if we didn’t report that HB 218 cuts $815 million from the Governor’s budget proposal (nearly $350 million from Health and Human Services), including $12 million in life-saving NARCAN training for police who are on the front lines of the state’s opioid crisis. It does, however, contain $125 million in new K-12 education funding.
Get ready to fight for the nation’s infants and toddlers—join us for Strolling Thunder! Get on the bus as we head to Washington May 2nd for a day of action for the youngest kids.
“Needlessly delaying the resettlement of refugee children is inconsistent with America’s values, and compromising the U.S. pediatric workforce is inconsistent with our commitment to child health.” Katherine Yun, Policy Lab @CHOP