Dear Friends and Neighbors,
In last week's video update, I shared results from the fight I led to change some House rules to reflect the will of the people. 74 percent of the 2nd District supported the initiative to require a two-thirds vote to increase taxes – see how we fought to uphold it. To watch the video, click here.
You can also subscribe to my playlist on YouTube to get these weekly videos as soon as we post them.
What do you think about good, but costly state programs?
Our state is facing a $900 million shortfall, and there has been a clear directive from voters to make it difficult to raise your taxes. I agree, so I am taking a fine tooth comb to our state budget. On your behalf, I want to know where the state is spending your money, what the return on this investment has been, and if a certain program or service should even be the state's responsibility.
While there's no doubt there are many worthwhile causes, and good intentions, rarely do people here question if something is the state's responsibility. I would like to present two programs which are worthwhile, but have been increasing in cost, showing that few budget decisions are easy.
First, the College Bound program. The goal of this scholarship program is to improve high school graduation and college enrollment rates for low-income students – a great goal to help the next generation get out of poverty. Current 7th and 8th graders who meet low-income standards and maintain good grades can apply to be promised financial aid to college. As you can see, the costs to taxpayers are rapidly increasing.
There are a few reasons for this increase in costs. First, the number of students eligible for the program is growing, and so is the percentage of those students who apply. Second, the cost of tuition itself has dramatically increased. Third, the original intent behind College Bound was to fill the gap in higher education funding, but many times full tuition has been awarded, depending on the student.
The second program I want to discuss is the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, known as ECEAP. This is a preschool program for children in low-income families, with developmental risks, or in foster care. It's important because it engages parents in their child's learning and helps the child to be more successful early, leading to lifelong learning. In the current 2011-13 budget which ends in June, the state is spending about $112 million for this program.
Currently, the enrollment “slots” remained at 8,391 each year. However, the Legislature redefined ECEAP in recent years making it an entitlement by 2018-19, adding 11,000 students to enrollment. This will significantly affect our state budget, which is already expected to increase funding to K-12 education.
While these are both good programs with noble goals, they are examples of how budgeting is not simple, nor without human impact. What do you think we should do about worthwhile programs that are increasing in costs? Please share your opinion by taking this online survey.
I enjoy hearing from you and having a discussion with those I represent so I can make thoughtful decisions.