On Wednesday at 9:30 A.M, North Carolina moms will be delivering colorful children’s handprints with powerful messages from MomsRising members to our State Legislators. This special delivery will be an important reminder to our legislators to give kids a hand.
Why handprints and why now? Final negotiations are underway right now in our Capitol and our leaders need one more reminder not to balance this budget on the backs of our children. Each handprint tile will bear a note with a brief message from a North Carolina resident urging legislators to give kids a hand and families a fair shake in their budget negotiations. That includes preserving programs like Smart Start and NC Health Choice, which ensure that young children get a healthy start in life.
Can you join us? Let us know at email@example.com. Help out with the handprint delivery! Meet at 9:30 this Wednesday at 16 West Jones Street in Raleigh.
Feel free to bring friends and kids! The more, the merrier!
From North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law’s Corporate Welfare Weekly:
Gene Nichol, professor of law and director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at UNC-Chapel Hill lists a few more priority lapses suffered by the state:
“When you ax thousands of public school teachers, dramatically cut Smart Start and More at Four and then hand over a potential $46 million to a giant computer company, you’ve got a priorities problem.”
“When you create tax loopholes for NASCAR as hundreds of Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina partnered are deluged with clients they can’t possibly serve, you’ve got a priorities problem.”
“When you subsidize drug companies and local pharmacists by tens of millions of dollars a year, thereby limiting the effective coverage of both state employees and Medicaid recipients, you’ve got a priorities problem.”
Early childhood funding is once again up in the air. The rumor is the Health & Human Services conference subcommittee slashed Smart Start’s funding by an unreasonable $28.2 million—of which $21.6 is recurring. Because of restrictions built into the legislation, all of this money must come from programs to improve the quality of early childhood programs, to provide family support, and to improve children’s health—effectively cutting more than a quarter from these programs.
Our children deserve better than this. A cut this large, particularly when combined with other cuts to young children, will seriously harm North Carolina’s early childhood system which has served as a national model. If a cut this large were to pass, it will take decades just to get back to where we are today. We need to remind our policymakers that early childhood investments are a win-win. They are essential for our children and families to thrive. And, our economy cannot recover without them nor could it prosper in the future. Just look at the facts:
- Early childhood programs create jobs—47,000 in North Carolina in 2007.
- Early childhood programs help parents get back to work. Keeping children in care allows parents to work and look for work, while preserving the jobs of child care workers.
- Today’s children are our future leaders, parents and workers. Our state’s prosperity depends on their healthy development and growth.
- The earliest years of infancy determine the architecture, the actual structure, of the brain.
- Research shows that everything from work force skills to lawful behavior stems from early childhood development, beginning at birth.
Voters already know this. They say funding for early childhood education should continue to be a top priority even in a difficult budget year. We need policymakers to listen. Please contact:
Conference Committee Chairs
Sen. Garrou, (919) 733-5620
Sen. Albertson, (919) 733-5705
Sen. Smith Dannelly, (919) 733-5955
Sen. Swindell , (919) 715-3030
Rep. Michaux, 919-715-2528
Rep. Adams, 919-733-5902
Rep. Crawford, 919-733-5824
Rep. Haire, 919-715-3005
Rep. Jeffus, 919-733-5191
Rep. Tolson, 919-715-3024
Rep. Yongue, 919-733-5821
Rep. Luebke, 919-733-7663
Rep. Gibson, 919-715-3007
Rep. Wainwright, 919-733-5995
Rep. Weiss, 919-715-3010
Rep. Holliman, 919-715-0873
Rep. Owens, 919-733-0010
Dear Governor Perdue,
Please don’t forget us. We are the more than 650,000 infants, toddlers and preschoolers in North Carolina. As an educator, you know how important our early childhood years are. You know that the actual structure and wiring of our brains is dependent on the experiences we have now. You championed us during your campaign. We need you to champion us again. You’ve traveled the state talking about education, but you didn’t mention us. Have you forgotten that the education process begins at birth?
The future of North Carolina and its economy depends us. There are more of us in North Carolina each year, but the services to ensure our healthy development and growth are being cut each year.
Voters support us. They say funding for early childhood education should continue to be a top priority even in a difficult budget year. We need you to support us too. We need your voice.
–North Carolina’s Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers
Last night, the Health and Human Services Appropriations Conference Committee shared their decisions on the money report.
The cut to Smart Start is $18 million in recurring dollars. That means that Smart Start will be permanently cut by $18 million. This is a major increase from the House proposal of $5 million (recurring) or even the Senate proposal of $15 million (non-recurring).
There was no opportunity for questions or discussion, they had met earlier and had finalized these cuts behind closed doors. The only comments made were by Sen. Berger who said that he thought they were still short of the actual target by several hundred million dollars. He knew there were great programs getting cut but lobbying the committee was not going to help. The only hope of reversing some of these cuts was to communicate to the entire General Assembly and the Governor that revenue needed to be raised.
Please let all the legislators know that this is not good for children or the future of the state.
The yo-yoing continues! Legislators are really struggling—they’ve been meeting since last Wednesday night, and they are still not through the money report. The gap between the Senate and the House is still in the hundreds of millions.
What has been going on: The conference committee meetings are underway. Last week the Health and Human Services conference committee met for over 17 hours but did not make much progress. The pressure is huge and the struggles are painful to consider. One of the issues that is causing lots of worry is the need for state dollars to access federal stimulus dollars. Some items cannot be cut or the state will lose even more funding. This puts Smart Start at great risk, because they do not consider this early childhood funding “necessary” to access federal dollars. There is also a rumor that the rules that would limit cuts to be between the Senate and House proposals (see chart) are going to be lifted. For Smart Start, the range was between $5 million and $15 million. If the rule is suspended, the cut could get considerably larger.
There is some good news. It seems that the Plus program is off the table, and the cut to subsidy has been reduced tentatively from $16 million to $12.6 million. This particular reduction is good because it will help the state pull down the federal stimulus dollars for child care subsidy.
What you need to do: Call your legislators – again ! Acknowledge the pressure that they are under, but tell them they need to hold firm on early childhood (staying in the range of the House and Senate proposals). And be sure to share your stories of the impact of cuts to date. Some folks seem to believe that the early childhood cuts last year were no a big problem, we need to show them otherwise. The names of the conference committee members and their numbers are can be found here. Clearly, leadership of the House and the Senate need to be targeted too. Senator Basnight and Speaker Hackney need to hear from all of us – even if you don’t live in their district.
Do not forget the Governor! She has been traveling across the state talking about the need for more taxes to address public education, but has not yet mentioned Smart Start or More at Four! We can not let her off the hook on this. She named herself the “mother of Smart Start” and now she ignores it when she talks about education. Smart Start and More at Four are the beginning of a good education. Call her (919-733-4240), fax her (919-733-2120), write on her Facebook page, email her or show up at one of her town hall meetings and fuss at her about forgetting the youngest children.
Thanks for everything you are doing, keeping the pressure on.
Central Meeting Place – Legislative Auditorium (3rd floor of the Legislative Building)
The home base for lobby day will be in the legislative auditorium on the 3rd floor of the Legislative Building. When you arrive, be sure to stop by, sign in, and pick up materials. There will be staff and volunteers there all day to answer questions and provide assistance.
The Methodist Home for Children has graciously offered their parking lot. They will have vans taking people to the legislature starting around 10:15 am and will provide rides back later in the afternoon. NOTE – Space is limited at the Methodist Home to about 50 parking spots – if the lot is full, please find parking near the legislative building. (Additional parking instructions.)
Directions to the Methodist Home:
From I-40 East:
Exit 289 – Wade Ave. (5.8 miles)
Right on Wirewood Dr. (387 ft)
Left at Washington – Methodist Home will be on the left – 1041 Washington St.
From I-40 West:
Take exit 299 (Hammond and Person St.)
Turn Right – Hammond becomes Person St.
Go through Downtown and turn left on Peace St.
Turn Right on Glenwood Ave. (.3 mi)
Turn left on Washington St. (.1 mi)
Turn right to stay on Washington St. (.1 mi)
Methodist Home will be on the right – 1041 Washington St.
Setting up Lobby Meetings:
Please try to set up meetings with your legislative delegation in advance (note – this is not a requirement, but it will help you to get the most out of your time at the General Assembly). Setting up these meetings is easy to do – here are the steps:
- ITry to set up meetings with everyone that represents your county. To find out who these people are and how to contact them, follow this link: http://www.ncleg.net/GIS/RandR07/Representation.html#byCounty.
- Call their office. Here’s a sample script: “Hi, my name is XXXX and work with the XXX. I’m going to be in Raleigh next Wednesday to talk about child and family issues in the budget, and would like to schedule a time to meet with Rep./Sen. XXXX.” Very simple.
- 15 minutes should be enough time for all of these meetings
More about Child and Family Day.