Letter: Keep hands off funds

The La Paz/Mohave Regional Partnership Council is opposed to any efforts by Governor Jan Brewer or the Arizona State Legislature to claim First Things First funds or repeal the Voter Protection Act.

First Things First funds are voter protected. Through this voter-approved initiative, these funds are intended to supplement rather than supplant early childhood programs and services for all Arizona children. Any method of diverting funds from First Things First is a violation of the Voter Protection Act and effectively asks young children to bail out the state.

These funds would not be available today if First Things First had not been adopted by Arizona voters. Arizona voters were willing to incur the additional cost of tobacco products in our state to improve the education, health, and lives of our youngest citizens. At no time did voters approve an additional revenue stream for the state's general fund. From the outset, First Things First funds were to be kept separate, and targeted for early childhood.

First Things First dollars are funding critical early childhood services designed for our community, by our community. Arizona voters gave this Regional Council the responsibility to determine how these funds should be spent locally. We are volunteers who live and work in this region and our funding plan is based on input from local parents and partners.

Should the proposal to amend voter protections become a reality, the voice of Arizona's citizens will be lost. We will lose the ability to utilize First Things First funds to deliver necessary services for our children. Programs that would be jeopardized include quality childcare, health screenings, and parent education.

The La Paz/Mohave Regional Partnership Council calls on the public and elected officials to reject any proposal to eliminate voter protections or redirect First Things First dollars.

Sincerely,

The Members of the La Paz/Mohave Regional Partnership Council

William Allsbrooks, chair