A central theme of the current presidential campaign is whether the government does too much to support its constituents.
While we want to see our government spend less of our hard-earned money, we also cringe when funding is cut to programs that help children get a good start in life.
Such programs can be the difference in whether an individual continues to receive taxpayer support as he or she becomes an adult.
Some of the leading supporters of early-childhood education are law-enforcement professionals, who know that if a person gets started down a solid path and learns along the way, that individual is less likely to become involved in criminal activities and land in jail on the public dime.
We join State College Police Chief Tom King in calling for the state to find money, even in challenging times, to maintain programs such as Pre-K Counts and Head Start.
This is really a comprehensive crime-prevention approach, King said Tuesday during a Fight Crime: Invest in Kids promotional gathering at the St. Paul Christian Preschool and Childcare Center in State College.
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is a national movement led by police and sheriffs departments that supports learning as a crime deterrent. The group put together last weeks local event.
King called the effort a long-term investment in young people. We agree.
And we urge state Sen. Jake Corman, who joined King at the event, to push his colleagues in Harrisburg to find room in the budget each year for early-childhood programs.
Corman, a Benner Township Republican, said there is support for such initiatives among his fellow legislators and Gov. Tom Corbett, but money is tight. The 2011-12 state budget reduced funding for Head Start and Pre-K Counts.
Youve got to have it to invest it, Corman said. The state is going through a difficult time now. Obviously, theres still a commitment to early-childhood education, as we were able to goose the numbers back up last year.
But until unemployment comes down and revenue comes back in a little bit better, well be struggling just to continue to make ends meet.
In his capacity as Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, Corman worked to restore the 5 percent in education funding that Corbett had proposed cutting in the current year. Thats a good first step.
Many say government should be run like a business, with regard to the investment taxpayers have made and without unnecessary or wasteful spending.
Business owners know they cant cut their way to prosperity, just as they know they cant spend money they dont have. Those realities make for important decisions.
And unlike a business, government doesnt exist to turn a profit, rather to serve its constituents wisely and efficiently.
What government should do is strive to invest its limited resources in areas where positive results can be seen, in areas where the investment could generate a ripple of savings elsewhere.
One of those areas is education, including early-childhood education.
Joan Stroemel, preschool director at St. Pauls, said her facility receives state funding, which gives the center the opportunity to provide children with early care and learning that some families would not otherwise be able to afford . It allows us the chance to give them a good start, she said.
A good start for a child can lead to a positive adulthood of making contributions to society, of giving back rather than taking.
Thats something leaders from both political parties should see as worth supporting.