The importance of early childhood education. Plus: the middle class, unemployment and child care, minimum wage, taxes and the state budget

December 22, 2008 | Alex Stone

Early learning is a critical investment: We’re learning a lot about learning, and all of it points to the importance of a child’s youngest years. Science increasingly has demonstrated the importance of attention, nutrition and activity in allowing children’s brains to develop. Legislatures and governors, including Chris Gregoire, have responded with various smart initiatives to prepare youngsters for school. President-elect Barack Obama wants his administration to get into the act nationally. Just in time, we think.

Biden to oversee efforts aimed at middle class: As vice president, Joe Biden will oversee an Obama administration effort to find ways of building up the ranks of the middle class, that ambiguously defined segment of society most Americans identify with.

Unemployment takes toll on child care services: The cost of gas is down. So are the prices of groceries and energy. But child care expenses are as high as ever, even as the recession drives providers out of business.

The Olympian: Letter to the Editor: Minimum wage is not to blame.

New York State Taxes May Rise for Rich: Gov. David A. Paterson rolled out 137 proposed tax and fee increases last week on items including iTunes downloads and soft drinks, but there could very well be another big one to come.

Pension contributions for workers could drop: We’re going to have to dig a bit deeper into the governor’s proposed changes to pension funding, but the short-term affect for workers in the popular PERS 2 plan would be less contributions.

No new taxes? Some disagree: After unveiling a pared-down budget proposal, Gov. Chris Gregoire said it wasn’t time to talk about the alternative: raising taxes.

Gregoire on layoffs and the economy: Here’s a TVW video clip from yesterday’s press conference showing Gregoire responding to reporter Adam Wilson about her view of raising taxes versus employee layoffs.

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Posted in Early Learning, Education, Minimum Wage, Retirement Security, State Economy, Tax and Budget, Work & Family

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