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Go Gentle on the Budget

Simply by signing his name, Gov. George Deukmejian can help California provide better care for those too young or too troubled to look out for themselves. The state budget now in his hands contains important funds for expanding child-care services and treating both chronically mentally ill people and emotionally disturbed children. These key provisions should remain in the budget, as should increased support for community colleges.

At $35.3 billion, the budget approved by the Legislature is 1.4% higher than the one that the governor proposed. It is a balanced budget. It provides for a $1-billion emergency reserve.

One of its foremost initiatives would provide money for local school districts to offer after-school care for children who otherwise might be unsupervised until parents return from work. The $60 million included in the Legislature’s budget also would enable more poor people who are eligible for state-subsidized child care to receive help. Currently, only one of every five children eligible for such subsidies receives them because the program has not had enough money. This section of the budget would also allow child care for some migrant workers who often must take their children into the fields.

The governor also can make a valuable breakthrough in caring for many of the people who now wander the streets homeless, disturbed and disturbing. The $48 million that the Legislature included in the budget covers some of the kinds of programs that would be expanded or initiated under a pending bill sponsored by Assemblyman Bruce Bronzan (D-Fresno). That measure would set mental-health priorities, and should also be passed and signed by the governor.

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Finally, the governor can complete his achievement of renewing the state’s firm support for higher education by approving additional money that the Legislature set aside for community colleges. They did not share in the big increases for the University of California and the California State University, and they must be helped if they are to remain the vital third sector in the higher-education community.

Compassionate and farsighted programs such as these clearly have the support of the public; they deserve that of the governor.


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