Democratic leaders at the legislature say they're unhappy with the Republican-authored Senate budget proposal that would cut Smart Start. It's a nationally recognized early childhood program for low-income families across the state. The Senate plan would strip funding for the program by 20 percent, as does the House budget proposal passed a few weeks ago. But the Senate proposal would also dissolve the parent organization that oversees Smart Start and shift its administration to the Division of Child Development. Democrat Joe Hackney is the Minority Leader in the House.
Joe Hackney: "The House budget and the Senate budget disproportionately decreases services to children and families and in particular those who are less fortunate. And that is particularly the case with our Smart Start program and the cuts to it."
Republican leaders say the plan would save money without harming the program, but Democrats say it would destroy the organization.