Richard Hinton

In an article appearing in the USA Today, governors around the nation will be appearing in the nation's capital to take a shot at breaking the budget logjam between the White House and Capital Hill. For many heads of states the time is quickly approaching for them to outline their fiscal year budgets for their constituents. Unless a Washington agreement is reached soon, most will have to make major adjustments -possibly large cuts in their spending, since part of their budget rests on allocations they receive from the federal government. "Governors face a huge amount of uncertainity . The next four to five weeks are critical ", says Raymond Scheppach National Governors' Association executive director. In a previous short-term budget cut proposal (signed by the President ) federal fundings have already affected the operations of several federal agencies and direct implications have been signaled towards the Medicaid and Welfare programs headed up by the states.

In an effort to balance the budget, political figureheads are trying to legislate policy to cut and reform both the welfare and medicaid program for the million of poverty stricken Americans around the world. How does this affect education? Why is it that voters and all other interested stakeholders need to voice their concerns over the proposed budget slicing for both state welfare and medicaid funds?

Quite simple!. States rely on many of these funds to help provide services to low income families, to the elderly, to families with children or pregnant women, and the disabled. Any cuts in these programs would not only affect the adults in these families but the children who come to our schools. Research will support that a growing number of our children come from single-parent homes, homes of low-income, and homes that are subsidized by one of the above programs or both. These children form the core of our at-risk population. Cutting funds to welfare and then converting welfare programs into block grants to the states, allowing states to design their own welfare sysytem is and sholud be a grave concern for all of us but especially to educators. Who's to say that states will use these block grants for assistant to the poor or to the young women who are pregnant or have children already in our schools? Presently, young unmarried teen-age mothers are asked to live at home and stay in school in order to receive their welfare payments. What would happen if states decided not to pay these unmarried teen-aged mothers? They would drop out of school and find a job most likely and the schools would have failed again. The most horrid scenario would be the mother's inability to find a job ( because of lack of education and skills ) and have to result to prostitution, selling drugs, and committing suicide in order to substain life and give life to her born or unborn child. However this could also happen to and in the male population of teen-agers as well. If their parents cannot afford a proper home environment for them, they too, can become a casualty to drugs, alcohol, violence, prostitution, and drop-outs.

The same concern is for cuts in Medicaid. Schools around the nation fear the fiscal and social impact that proposed legislation cuts in
medicaid may have on them. " Reimbursements from Medicaid, the federal health insurance, programs for the poor, may be worth as much as $500 million to school districts this school year according to the American Association of School Administrators. Districts depend on medicaid funding for services that range from a school nurse's treatment of a fever to hospital like care for several disabled children"( Education Week, Vol.XV, pg. 27 ). Imagine the impact that a proposed cut to this program might have on the new "inclusive" reform effort scaling the educational scene today. States will need more funds to include this "special population" of students in a regular classroom setting if the new reform is to be successful. Teachers will need to be trained, facilities will need to be accommodating, new program and services will need to be in place to serve the special needs of these children, and appropriate resources made accessible. If the federal government was to supply fewer funds now and the states had to decide how to distribute these resources, who's to say that an appropriate education will be provided for this "special population. In addition, states fear that they will be forced to try to implement an appropriate inclusion model from an already strapped budget.

In summary, it would be a tremendous blow for states not to have access to funds cut away from both programs (Medicaid and Welfare ). Both serve to help educate and provide for the "oppressed" members of a crippling society. Instead of reducing funding for such valued programs, legislators need to advocate increase funding for an ailing nation. If balancing the budget is the real issue, then one needs to look deeper into other programs that has a lesser impact on human beings, especially children, and find the needed financial resources ( i.e. politician salarires, politician travel expenses and accounts, unnecessary military spendings, etc. ) to make our country economically prudent.

Title of article: Governors hope to help solve budget deadlock
Author/Affiliation: Richard Benedetto
Publication: USA Today
Date: Friday, February 2, 1996
Pages: 5A

Richard Hinton
UNC Principal Fellow
"friendship is essential to the soul"