What makes a nation or state truly great isn’t its structures, but its care for children. In California we need a legislature that has the right priorities.
We can’t do it all. We must pick what will bring the greatest good.
Chris Chiang is riled by the arguments that say we should spend money on something simply because a bond allows it or Federal dollars are available. State lawmakers must understand that to taxpayers, checks they write to the local, state, or federal government are all the same dollars to them. Sacramento needs to remember that spending on one project ultimately means less spending on another. The annual general debt payments alone on high speed rail are projected to be $700 million a year. Our state already pays $5 billion a year in repaying bonds on existing projects. That’s equivalent to half of our higher education budget.
Even if the state has permission to borrow more, it should not.
Our children, the future workers of our state, are our best investment. Yet our state cuts 1/3 of early child development funding for California’s neediest families and pursues the $100 billion dollar high speed rail project. Chris, a Democrat, supports Republican Senator Doug LaMafa’s bill to let the voters decide again on the high speed rail bond. The state’s own top policy experts at the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office does not recommend funding for high speed rail.
Our state must prioritize and choose what matters most. If we invest in our children, we will have more revenue in the future to fund the many other projects that matter to us. If we don’t have the fortitude now, we will increasingly have less to fund anything, as we spend more on social services and prisons.
A Smart Idea, A Smart Priority
The Governor’s calls on California to be “bold” and Chris will challenge the governor to ensure that California’s children receive the best early child development in the nation. Illinois in 2006 became the first state to offer universal preschool. Making a long term investment in California’s children will save the state billions if we are willing to be as bold on this as we are with the high speed rail. Studies prove that not only is early child care a solid investment, certain gains not pursued in the early years are irretrievable by later more costly K-12 interventions.
The body of research show that early diagnosis and intervention before kindergarten especially for Autism can significant improve that child’s lifelong learning. We spend more later on less successful interventions, yet we refuse to invest in cheaper earlier interventions that work better?
How we threat our children ages 0-2 will predict more about our state’s future than any other social issue. A toddler’s social emotional development or early disability intervention may not sound like public issues in the way high speed rail or more prisons do, but which will do more to permanently reduce crime, increase jobs, and define us as a modern society?
Children don’t have the high paid lobbyists.
Unlike construction projects, children can’t write donations to fight for themselves. Children depend on you to lobby for them. The strength of our future economy depends on your courage to place into office those with courage to invest long term in our state’s people.