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Report: Texas Needs to Show Some Love for its Children

February 14, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas - "Show some love for the children this Valentine's Day." That's the message being delivered to the legislature in a new paper from Texas Forward. The research details how budget cut proposals fall heaviest on kids, whether it be in the classroom, the doctor's office or foster care.

Eileen Garcia, CEO of Texans Care for Children and a member of Texas Forward, says such cuts push financial burdens onto local communities, create higher expenses later and ultimately neglect the needs of the state's future work force.

"While this is about some real tragic, immediate outcomes for kids, it really paints the long-term picture of what we can expect for Texas."

Linda Boles in Liberty County is a single grandparent with custody of four grandchildren who were removed from their parents' home because of abuse. While she says she is dedicated to keeping custody, she says the proposed budget cuts could mean some other families will no longer be able to act as kinship caregivers, which would send the children to more expensive foster care. She says all she needs is a little help making ends meet.

"They're great children; they have come a long, long way. But, you know, I never expected to have four little ones depending on each step I make."

Garcia says another thought in the budget debate is making sure Texas taps into all available federal funds. Sometimes, that requires the state to spend, in order to get matching dollars. And there are other options.

"We have our Rainy Day Fund that we need to spend during this economic crisis. At the same time, we also need to look at what loopholes exist within our revenue structure."

The budget debate has centered mostly on cutting spending to balance the budget, with many elected leaders promising not to raise taxes. Texas Forward is calling for a more balanced approach that puts all options on the table.

House appropriations committee hearings on the proposed cuts are scheduled to start this week.

The paper, "Children and the Budget," is available at www.txforward.org.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - TX