Sunday, February 27, 2005

Democracy in action

These passages were cut from a couple of emails I received recently from Appropriation-Education Committee members. The bolded emphasis is mine.

I wanted to let you know I appreciate your concern regarding the Governor’s proposed elimination of the First Steps program and to give you an update. The Governor’s cut was addressed in public testimony last week before the House Appropriations Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education. The public turnout for the hearing was impressive and the testimony was extremely moving. I commend the people who came and shared their heartfelt stories. As an educator I fully understand the positive consequences of early intervention, home therapies, multi-disciplined approach, just some of the benefits, as you know, of First Steps.

The committee did not approve the Governor’s move to eliminate First Steps. The committee members voted the budget out with First Steps still in it. Keep in mind that passing the budget bills is a process that takes many weeks. Final closure comes with the Governor signing or vetoing the budget bills later in the session. The Governor can choose to change his recommendation to cut First Steps at any time.

Rep. Sara Lampe - Democrat
District 138, Springfield

From the beginning, members of this committee as well as many in the Capitol have backed the services of this program. Details of the program are not available but the dialogue and planning is firm enough that I have received word that a letter of recommendation for funding could be included in my 3/1/05 report to the Budget Committee and that dollars outside our responsibility would fund it.

On Tuesday, February 22, the Committee voted unanimously for the Chair/me to send a letter on their behalf. I expect the Budget Committee to also offer strong support and accept the recommendation and funding source. The appropriation/budget process is working, but is not completed.

Kathlyn Fares (Webster, Missouri - Republican)
Appropriation-Education Chair

When the representative democracy works, it is a beautiful thing. In this case, it's not working perfectly. The $1 million approved is far short of the $20+ million the program currently costs, even when the $8 million that the federal government is willing to chip in is added on. At least legislators now know that this program is important and that there will be an outcry and political ramifications if it is eliminated. I am beginning to feel very worried that it won't be fully funded, though. We are lucky that we will be able to afford the therapy that Ellie needs. But I really think that our whole family is benefiting from my working only part time right now and I do not want to have to go back to a full time job plus travel schedule this year.


chasmyn said...

Can I just say I am weeping with joy over this? No kidding, I really am. This is wo wonderful.

Sarahlynn said...

It really is great when the people complain and their elected officials respond!