Today, Governor Bev Perdue vetoed the budget passed by the North Carolina General Assembly. In doing so, she said:
From the high chair to the rocking chair, every North Carolinian has been given the opportunity for a quality education — from early childhood, K-12, community colleges and through our colleges and universities. This is the commitment we have made to our people because, quite simply, it’s what we believe in.
We have lived our values – until now.
Now, for the first time, we have a legislature that is turning its back on our schools, our children, our longstanding investments in education and our future economic prospects.
Under this budget:
We will overlook many of our most at-risk pre-school children by slashing Smart Start and More at Four, leaving these kids behind before they’ve even started Kindergarten . . .
Statement by Dr. Olson Huff, Chair of the Board of The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc., released the following statement:
“In vetoing the budget, Governor Perdue told North Carolinians that our children must be the first priority. She said no to a budget that slashes numerous programs that children need, including the state’s early childhood system that serves as a model throughout the country. The 20 percent cuts to Smart Start and More at Four place a disproportionate share of the sacrifice on our youngest children—those at an age where the brain is literally being built and the foundation for all learning is established. The experiences that children have in their earliest years literally shape the architecture of their brains and strongly affect whether they grow up to be productive, contributing members of society.
Both Smart Start and More at Four produce important results for North Carolina, including ensuring that more children are reading by third grade and creating and sustaining jobs. Earlier this year, Duke University released a study showing that all North Carolina third-graders have higher standardized reading and math scores and lower special education placement rates in counties that received more funding for Smart Start and More at Four when those children were younger. In the immediate, these programs sustain hundreds of thousands of jobs, generate billions of dollars, allow employees to be productive, attract business to our state, and lay the groundwork for North Carolina’s economic future. Long-term, children who receive high-quality early childhood education are more likely to graduate from high school, own a home, have savings, and commit fewer crimes than their peers. Investing in developing healthy, smart and productive children is a fiscally responsible way to reduce deficits and create growth.
We applaud the Governor for her decisive action for our children.”