Tom Emmer's vaunted education plan was unveiled today. And like everything else about his budget it was full of half-truths, distortions and unintended consequences.
The biggest distortion of all as was that he would "hold K-12 education harmless" by continuing the $13.3 billion allocated in the last biennium. Of course, this doesn't account for the nearly $2 billion "shift" that would not begin to be repaid until 2014. In addition, other folks have reported that the $13.3 billion figure also understates actual K-12 spending by $500 million. EDIT: Emmer's campaign stated later that this was a "typo" and corrected the figure to $13.8 billion.
Tom Emmer's reform agenda for education, supposed to increase accountability while decreasing mandates (think about that for a minute) is currently no more than a word salad (accountability, excellence, performance, effective) with a side of vagueness dressing.
But my concern is with what was at the end of his proposal, to shift MFIP Child Care Assistance and Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance to Early Childhood Education (ECFE.)
ECFE is a valuable program, well worth the investment. But raiding child care funds to pay for it is the wrong revenue source.
For one thing, the majority of child care funding through these programs is provided through federal matching grants. The state child care programs that would be cut would yield $108,139,031 using the FY2009 budget, but would then lose $116,755,581 in matching federal dollars. In other words, for every state dollar spent on child care, we would lose more than a dollar in federal money. In fact, the Basic Sliding Fee child care assistance program has a nearly 2 to 1 federal match, so cutting $35,781,231 in state funding would lose $69,660,222 in federal TANF and CCDF funds.
Like everything else Emmer proposes, this half-baked idea would cause Minnesota to lose even more of its share of federal tax dollars its residents pay. Depending on the size of the shift he proposes, it could also cause the loss of child care assistance for over 16,000 Minnesota families.
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