Children’s Advocates Push Back on Proposed Cuts to Kids’ Programs

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
Gov. Gavin Newsom met Friday with legislative leaders to work on the budget. Photo Credit: Clarissa Resultan/CA Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Children’s groups are speaking out against billions of dollars in state budget cuts being proposed in California, saying programs that benefit children should be a priority.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, California has taken a budget nosedive going from a $5.6 billion budget surplus in January to a $54.3 billion deficit.

No one argues the state is going to have to do some trimming. But Ted Lempert, president of the group Children Now, says big cuts to child care, preschool, and K-through-12 education would be devastating for children, especially in lower-income families.

“It’s basically taking kids who weren’t getting the supports they needed before this pandemic hit, and really exacerbating these disparities,” he states.

Kindergarten through grade 12 education is slated for a $19 billion cut over two years. But Gov. Gavin Newsom did set aside $4.4 billion in emergency federal aid, and also has given the schools $2.3 billion that was supposed to be used to bolster the teachers’ pension fund.

Lempert also objects to the idea of eliminating the crisis hotline for foster youth. He says he’s hoping the state and the federal government will work together to soften the blow.

“Our next step is to work with the legislature to restore some of them and also, of course, pushing the federal government to provide more relief so some of these proposed cuts do not have to take place,” he states

The legislature will have to vote on a final budget in June. The issue will likely return to the forefront in the mid-year budget revision in the fall.