Friday, May 21, 2010

ECE cuts matter

So what's in the Budget other than tax cuts for the rich? Cuts, of course. Bill English's desire to shrink the state to reduce the tax burden on people like him mean he is slashing spending across government services. Housing gets cut, with an 80% reduction in the budget for buying and improving state houses. Health gets a sub-inflation rise, which means DHBs will be forced to make cuts. Ditto education. And the significant victim here is Early Childhood Education, where $400 million is being ripped out of ECE subsidies over the next four years.

National has never cared about ECE, regarding it as simple babysitting, but it matters. ECE is one of the greatest drivers of equality, significantly reducing the effects of parental socioeconomic background on education throughout a child's life. Basically, it gives everyone a better start in life, allowing every child to rise to their full potential. It also enables greater choice and higher workforce participation rates, freeing up parents (usually mothers) from having to stay home to take care of the kids. Cutting these subsidies will mean that ECE centres will have to charge higher fees (or, if they provide 20 hours free, stop providing it so they can charge - saving the government even more money), which in turn will reduce uptake - meaning that kids won't get that start in life, and parents will have to give up work.

This isn't just National's privileged elite pulling the ladder up after them - they're now actively stamping on the fingers of those below them. Its cruel, vicious, and bad for the vast majority of kiwis - but again, so very, very National.