Galesburg Register-Mail: Bustos stresses need to fund education programs

GALESBURG — U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, stopped by West Central Communities Inc. Head Start program Wednesday to talk about the importance of funding for childcare and educational programs.

The conversation comes in light of a recent budget passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that would cut social programs, repeal the Affordable Care Act and reduce taxes.

The budget passed 219-205 last week, but Bustos, who represents the 17th Congressional District, said it likely won’t make it through the Senate for approval.

“It’s not going to go anywhere, it’s purely partisan,” Bustos said. “The Senate won’t pass it, and the president would never sign that into law anyways.”

Included in the cuts were $5.1 trillion to various social programs and a 25 percent corporate tax rate, as well as reducing the current tax framework to a two-bracket system of 25 percent and 10 percent.

Bustos said the partisan dysfunction when it comes to budgeting hurts children and their families.

“All it does is continue to give programs like Head Start and Pell Grant programs contented uncertainty, and it’s unfair to everyone who works here, it’s unfair to the families that send their kids here,” she said. “All that does is lead to uncertainty for families all over the country, and that’s what we have to put a stop to.”

The Head Start program, which serves Knox, Henderson and Warren counties, faced cuts during the governmental sequestration last year, which in turn reduced both its services and transportation for children in the program.

Mary Reed, the Head Start’s executive director, said the facility faced a cut of approximately 5.27 percent. That cut translated into a grant loss of $120,000.

“With that, we had two classrooms that went from (running) five days a week, that we had to move down to four days a week, so that limited transportation,” Reed said. “We had one classroom that completely lost transportation, and we had a management position that someone left and we never replaced, that was Human Resources and we absorbed that into the other management positions.”

Reed said they were happy to see those services be restored.

“When we invest in our children, starting from age 3 until they go on to kindergarten, we’re preparing them for their future education-wise, socially, mentally, and physically,” Reed said. “Everyone reaps the benefits of that.”