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Courting the "Super Committee" on Behalf of Kids

October 3, 2011

ALBANY, N.Y. - As the congressional "super committee" members ponder what to cut from the federal budget, advocates ranging from a Nobel Prize-winning economist to a New York Internet-startup CEO are urging them to spare funding for early childhood development.

The economist, James Heckman, has written the committee to say early childhood development deserves more resources, not less.

"If we were to compare the benefit of bombing Iraq or Afghanistan or a new drone to trying to produce a more educated workforce and reduce what is a rising level of inequality in American society, my hope that this committee might see [the benefit of the latter]."

America's Edge, an organization of business executives who believe in backing early child care and education, says their research shows short-term economic benefits - as well as long-term - stem from investing in kids. One member of the group, the head of an Albany Internet company, calls it "almost a no-brainer," and hopes the super committee gets the message.

Jeff Goronkin, CEO of Internet-startup company iZoca, wants the super committee to know that his firm's future is in the hands of today's kids.

"They need to take a look at the discretionary spending and say, 'Look, we need to leave education alone,' because education is about our future - especially early childhood education."

Susan Gates, national director of America's Edge, says research by her group shows that every dollar invested in early learning in New York generates an additional 86 cents.

"When you consider the long-term benefits and couple that with the short-term boost to local businesses, it's a proven investment that shouldn't be touched."

Gates is hopeful that congressional budget cutters will look elsewhere.

"They have protected that funding in the past few years, so we remain hopeful, but we know we've got a lot of hard work to do."

The Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, known informally as the "Super Committee," is tasked with eliminating $1.2 trillion from the federal budget to reduce the deficit.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY