Valley Daycares Close Because State Leaders Can't Settle on a Budget

August 29, 2008 12:17:26 AM PDT
Day 59 of the State budget impasse and a deal may be in the works, but it could mean a tax increase. Word from the Action News capitol bureau -- is the state senate has reached an agreement, which will be voted on Friday morning.It reportedly includes a 1% sales tax increase for the next three years. However, the house is still said to be far away from a deal. The deal can't come soon enough for hundreds of families in the Valley who are about to lose day care for their children. Several Fresno county child care facilities are closing tomorrow.

'Lil George Rodriguez knew something was different Thursday afternoon when his mother came to pick him up at Selma's Early Childhood Education Center. His teachers had just cleared out his cubby hole. George's mom Yvonne said she can't figure out how to explain to her son that his state-funded daycare's closing Friday because legislators can't decide on a budget.

Non-profit group I-5 Social Services relies on the state $5.8 million to run this facility and 7 others like it in the Valley but now those funds have dried up.

Rodriguez says George will miss his friends but now she has to worry about who will watch her son while she works. Rodriguez: "I'm gonna be wondering how's my kid or you know what I mean if my mom's ok with him. In here I know he's taken very good care of."

Friday at 5pm when the doors close 70 kids will be without daycare. 22 employees will be looking for a job. But this organization owns 7 other day care centers in the valley. That means 700 kids total will be without day care and 200 employees will be looking for a new job Monday.

Mendoza's husband just lost his job and she's pregnant. As a teacher she was the primary bread winner in her family. Mendoza cried: "It's sad, I've been very stressed out. I try not to cry and I try not to think about it."

Teachers are taking down the last of the paintings on the wall. And construction and building projects will cease until politicians can decide on a budget.

Javier Guzman with I-5 Social Services said even if a budget were to pass it would be at least 3 weeks before employees could be paid and daycare operations resume.

"By the time we get our bill processed in Sacramento god knows how many bills are stacking up in the education department right now. By the time they process our payment it's gonna be a while," said Guzman.

Even though life will be tough for these parents who rely on state funded daycare, the teachers inside remain hopeful ...

Teacher Elisha Tafoya said: "We're just gonna live on that hope that it's gonna open."

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