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Youngest North Carolinians Impacted by High Speed Budget Bill

Numerous studies on early childhood education indicate it benefits children well into their school and adult lives. (Twenty20)
Numerous studies on early childhood education indicate it benefits children well into their school and adult lives. (Twenty20)
May 30, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. – It's full speed ahead for the Republican-backed state budget released late Monday night.

The procedure typically takes weeks to allow for input, review and committee meetings, and opponents are worried it's the state's children who are getting run over in the process.

Early childhood education programs are expected to feel the impact.

Lawmakers had more than $75 million in federal money available to expand early learning opportunities and nearly two-thirds of that is being allocated for other purposes.

Rob Thompson, deputy director of the advocacy group NC Child, says it's a missed opportunity.

"Right now we've got about 50,000 children on a waiting list for child care subsidies,” he points out. “By diverting that $50 million, several thousand of these children on the waiting list right now aren't going to be able to move off that waiting list."

Republican legislative leaders say they plan to refuse any amendments to the budget bill.

The federal money comes from $2.4 billion allocated by Congress in February, signed by President Donald Trump and championed by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina.

Thompson says the average cost of child care in North Carolina is $17,000 a year, well above what many parents can afford.

"Parents really have a Catch 22 when it comes to child care,” he states. “The jobs that a parent might have to take could pay so little that it's actually going to lose them money to put a child into child care because child care is so expensive."

There are also major differences between Gov. Roy Cooper's budget and that proposed in the State Assembly.

Among them, Cooper proposes $130 million to increase school safety, and the Republican budget proposes $35 million.

With regards to mental health staffing, Cooper proposes $40 million, while the Republican budget proposes $10 million.

Most of the money the Republican budget allocates for school safety and health improvement is only budgeted for one year.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC