Moms, kids board trolleys to General Assembly

North Carolina State Legislative Office Building (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

February 23, 2011 10:46:58 AM PST
The state budget crisis has parents statewide on alert for possible cuts to children's programs.In order to protect programs, a group called MomsRising -- an online and on-the-ground grassroots organization -- boarded trolleys headed toward the General Assembly in Raleigh Wednesday to make their voices heard.

Inspired by the classic children's book The Little Engine That Could, over 100 North Carolina families boarded the trolleys wearing engineer caps.

"We're talking about The Little Engine That Could," Messersmith said. "He had a hard decision to make, but he did the right thing and we're expecting our legislators to do the same."

To personally drive home the point, the moms visited legislators on West Jones Street in downtown Raleigh one by one to drop off trains with messages from fellow parents who couldn't be there.

"That we're paying attention and we expect them to stand up for North Carolina's kids," said Beth Messersmith with MomsRising. "For early learning, for healthy choice, for infant mortality programs, to all the programs that kids relay on to have a healthy future."

Last week, Gov. Beverly Perdue released her plan to close the gaping hole in North Carolina's budget.

Click here to read the entire budget proposal on the governor's website.

While her two-year budget proposal to the Legislature would pay for all teachers and teacher assistants currently funded by the state, other public employees wouldn't be as protected.

North Carolina legislators are considering proposals to cut the budget for several children's programs, including Smart Start, NC Health Choice, infant mortality programs and child care subsides.

MomsRising and its supporters want lawmakers to make sure money for the program stays in the state budget.

"Particularly, I'm worried about funding being cut for programs like Smart Start, which basically helps provide quality early childhood education to families all over the state," Elizabeth Waugh-Stewart said.

According to the organization, last year more than 47,000 children in working class families received assistance from Smart Start.

As for whether legislators will listen, the moms say they are optimistic.

"If they have a heart and they have children and they can see the future of this state, they'll get the message," Rah Bickley said. "They can do it if they think they can, we think they can."

To learn more about the organization, visit

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