It’s one of those questions we always ask ourselves in love, life and politics: What if?
In this case, what if the Early to Rise campaign had gotten its one penny tax increase for early education on the ballot?
“The good news for them is it was support for this. The bad news, of course, is they’re not on the ballot.”
That’s Bob Stein at Rice University. He conducted the poll. He found about 49 percent of likely voters said they would support it.
“When you tell people would you like to spend money on early childhood, particularly for training the parents and childcare providers skill sets that would help children get ready for first grade, you can probably get close to 50 percent. This would have been a real battle.”
Stein says 35 percent of voters said they opposed it. About 15 percent weren’t sure.
Jonathan Day with the Early to Rise campaign says those numbers are very encouraging.
“There’s no such thing as an inevitable election result. But surely the numbers confirm that the support is available and with strong public support and a strong campaign, we could have won this election.”
But there will be no election.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett refused to put the measure on the ballot.
“When this all came to me, you know, it kind of ties my stomach in a knot because I’m trying to sort all this out and you have people, you know, chewing on you from all sides. But at the end it became just a question of what does the law say.”
Emmett says the campaign was trying to use an outdated law to get it on the ballot.
BOR prints a guest post from Fred Lewis of Texans Together that blames Emmett for the Early To Rise initiative not being on the ballot. I think that’s a bit misguided – ultimately, it was the 14th Court of Appeals that settled the matter. I think it’s highly likely that we’d be in the same position had Emmett accepted the petitions and Early To Rise had been the defendant in the lawsuit that would have certainly followed. Judge Emmett did give a blueprint for what to do next time, and it seems for sure that there will be a next time.
[United Way Bright Beginnings] program manager Mitzi Bartlett says ten years of data show children who come here do better in school later on.
“We’re learning about consequences. We are learning so that when we go into the workplace, we can work well with others, we can problem solve and we know to try again. We’re all right if we make a mistake.”
She says it’s all right to try again.
And that is what early education advocates say they will do.
I see no reason why this wouldn’t pass next year, if the poll from this year is accurate. If you look at the poll data – click “Early Education” to see the details for this question – and you’ll see that Anglos disapproved by a modest amount, Hispanic approved by a larger amount, and African Americans approved by an overwhelming amount. I believe that would make for a successful effort in 2014, and with some potential tailwinds from Wendy Davis at the top of the Democratic ticket, prospects could be even brighter. I hope they work out some of the bugs that should have been worked out this year, get the wording right on the referendum, and take another crack at it next year.