LAKEWOOD, COLO.—As my former boss, Gov. Bill Ritter, put it, "A budget is a moral document. How you spend money is a statement of your values."
Their refusal to close a budget gap means Colorado's most vulnerable children will have to pay 30 cents every morning for school breakfast in the latter part of the spring term. That may not sound like much to you or me, but to a family scraping by on an $8 an hour job, that hurts. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the GOP.]
Republican State Rep. Kent Lambert from Colorado Springs says it's the kids' fault that their parents don't make enough money.
“As a family guy myself with children and grandchildren, I take a very strong responsibility to earn money to feed my own family,” Lambert said, adding that charities could fill the need if some families have difficulty paying the fees.
So let them suffer to prove a point? Are you that vindictive against children for the perceived sins of their parents?
This vote is not only morally indefensible, it is fiscally irresponsible and short-sighted. Colorado has the fastest-growing rate of child poverty in the country, especially among Latinos, which amounts to an economic sinkhole down the road.
Quite simply, hungry kids don't learn. There is a direct correlation between at-risk kids who get a decent breakfast and their ability to stay in school—and to get a decent job in the future. [See a roundup of Tea Party political cartoons.]
As Chris Watney of the Colorado Children's Campaign put it, "If we aren't educating kids as well as we could, there isn't really a chance for them to lift themselves and their families out of poverty."
So 10 years from now, when those hungry kids drop out of school and end up on some form of public assistance (or on the streets), the Tea Party Republicans can pat themselves on the back for their infinite wisdom in cutting off 30 cents for a child's breakfast.