By Jin David Kim, Communications Director, PCCY
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.
Last 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.
Jin David Kim is the communications director for Public Citizens for Children & Youth (PCCY), a Partner in the Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition, where he oversees all communications activities for the organization. David is a Toronto-born writer and filmmaker and has worked internationally for major media groups such as the Globe and Mail, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, International Herald Tribune, and the National Film Board. He has worked in politics and government as well, serving as communications director and political advisor in five election campaigns in Canada where he served as an advisor to Ontario’s Minister of Education and Minister of Culture. In 2008, David moved to Philadelphia and was Media Director for a marketing agency in Old City before being named Director of Communications for the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual disAbility Services, the City’s largest agency.