Statement on the GOP Leadership Budget Targets

Today, the GOP Leadership GOP announced spending targets for the General Assembly budget committees. They have directed the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Education and Health and Human Services to consider consolidating/eliminating Smart Start and More at Four.

Dr. Olson Huff, Board Chair of The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc.

“I am saddened for the children of North Carolina that the General Assembly would even consider eliminating Smart Start or More at Four.

Children, particularly our youngest children, need to be priority one. It is not hyperbole to state that the lives of a generation of children hang in the balance. The impact of continued disinvestment will be compounded over generations. We know too much to let this happen. Neuroscience has changed how we think of the earliest years. Images of the brain show that the experiences children have early in life literally shape the wiring of the brain and strongly affect whether a child grows up to be a healthy, productive member of society.

In the words of my colleague Dr. Jack Shonkoff of the Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, ‘Once you know what we know about brain development, how do you morally walk away?’

North Carolinians do not want to walk away. In fact they want more early childhood investments, not less. During the height of the recession, 800 parents, business leaders, elected officials, health care providers, and early childhood professionals agreed that ensuring access to high-quality early care and education programs needed to be a top priority for the state. Similarly, a recent poll by Public Policy Polling that found the majority of NC voters do not support cuts to early childhood funding. And more than 2.000 North Carolinians have signed the Children’s Pledge asking policymakers to protect early childhood investments.

Members of the General Assembly were elected to do the ‘people’s business.’ The people want to ensure that all children have a fair opportunity to succeed.”

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