Squaring the Circle on Parents as Teachers
As our regular readers know, we blog a lot about the Parents as Teachers (PAT) program here. It tends to generate a substantial number of comments, which is awesome. Sarah Brodsky has done most of the posting on this subject, but I will take a stab at it here — and I post this as someone who has been a defender of the program and its benefits previously (in comments, not my own blog posts).
Today’s Post-Dispatch has an article about the latest round of budget cuts in Jeff City. This round of cuts will apparently hit the PAT program hard. The national director of the organization, which is based in Missouri, is taking the cuts personally and hitting back hard:
“I have passed beyond astonishment at the governor’s actions to anger at this disparate attack on Parents as Teachers,” Stepleton said from the organization’s national headquarters in Maryland Heights.
I might understand her anger, but I have to come to the defense of the governor and legislature here. PAT is a worthy program, and by that I mean that I feel it serves its mission more effectively than many other social programs. My family uses it, and we pay for it through our property taxes. If we were asked to pay for it via both property taxes and additional fees, I readily admit we would not use it. But there is no reason PAT should not feel the cutbacks to the same degree as other programs — or, in certain cases like the Highway Patrol, more than other programs. There is nothing so important about PAT, compared to may other programs, that should make it immune to cutbacks when they are required. And I again remind you that I say this as someone who likes, uses, and supports the PAT program overall.
The governor has difficult choices to make, and he deserves credit for facing up to the task and making the hard decisions. The General Assembly also deserves great credit for working with him on many (not all, but many) of these choices, and refusing to raise taxes in these tough budget times. Raising taxes is the easy way out, not the hard way.
Other proposed cuts are positively exciting, such as reducing, even just temporarily, aid to Missouri’s insipid ethanol industry:
The state will delay paying $3.2 million in subsidies owed to biodiesel plants. Next year, they’ll get about 75 percent of what they’re owed, with the rest being deferred to future years.
Here’s hoping that they make the biodiesel cuts permanent, then cut it even further.