East Bay News

Parents apply pressure on state to pass budget

Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Parents apply pressure on state to pass budget Child care protest

Perhaps no one is more anxious to see lawmakers pass a budget than parents with children in state operated daycare centers. Hundreds of them marched in Fremont Wednesday to protest the state's overdue budget.

Lawmakers and the governor say they are close to a budget deal, however parents with children in these child care centers tried to put some added pressure on by organizing a pretty big march and rally called "The Closure for a Cause."

Kids marched alongside their parents who were calling for an end to the state's record budget impasse.

"We've decided that drastic action was needed because without a state budget, we might have to shut our doors down," said Camille Llanes-Fontanilla from Kidango.

They would have to close temporarily until there is a budget in place.

Fremont-based Kidango runs 41 centers in the Bay Area and on July 1, the state stopped funding them and every child care facility in California. Kidango has been paying their staff using their cash reserves and lines of credit. Teachers also took a pay cut.

"But it was worth it for us to keep our centers open, for us to keep our jobs, and to keep spots for the children," said Valerie Barsuglia from Kidango.

Regardless, the money runs out in November. State budgets have been overdue in the past and non-profits like the preschool have borrowed from banks before, but this year is different.

"The difference this year is that the Republicans and the governor are saying, 'We're no longer going to fund child care.' So banks look at that and say 'OK, well then we're not going to lend you money because we are not going to get paid back,'" said Assembly Member Mark Chekal-Bain, District 14.

At noon on Wednesday St. Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, joined the parents as they moved to Oakland for a rally near the state building.

Corbett assured that California's child care program will survive.

"The major cuts the governor proposed in the May revise, so far are off the table. So there are cuts, but not the major cuts that would have totally gotten rid of our child care system as we know it," said Corbett.

"I think Sen. Corbett is probably right, but until this is over it's not over," said Chekal-Bain.

Parents Luisa Delgado and Willie Franco of San Jose say the centers give children living in underserved communities a level playing field.

"He learns so much and I want him to get a head start before he gets into kindergarten," said Delgado.

The reality is without these centers, many of these parents could simply not work. One aide to a Sacramento lawmaker said, "If you think California's unemployment numbers are bad, they will only get worse if a deal is not reached soon."

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Tags:
fremont, oakland, california budget crisis, east bay news, lyanne melendez
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