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San Diego Youth Speak Out On How Budget Cuts Hurt Their Chances For Success

Evening Edition

Above: Joni Halpern, the director of the Supportive Parents Information Network, and Mark Dillon, the vice-chair of the San Diego Human Relations Commission, talk to KPBS.

Aired 10/17/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUESTS

Joni Halpern, director, Supportive Parents Information Network

Mark Dillon, vice-chair, San Diego Human Relations Commission

Transcript

How Budget Decisions Affect San Diego Kids

"When children of low-income families try to reach their dreams, they are greeted by barriers all around them – barriers that deter them from reaching their dreams. What are these barriers? …

Here is only one example: When the City of San Diego votes with the Metropolitan Transit District and the San Diego Association of Governments to raise bus fees and reduce bus routes, it results in low-income parents having a harder time finding work and getting to work. This reduces the family budget leaving children hungry and sometimes homeless."

-Dereck Montes is a San Diego City College student and youth leader at the Supportive Parents Information Network

How Budget Decisions Affect San Diego Kids

"I would like school more if I could have classes in art, or drama or music. But we do not have those classes...

I would like to learn art, drama and music in the library near my house. But they do not have classes for us. I like to act. I like to paint. I want to learn music. Many kids are like me."

Angela Salgado, 8 years old.

All of our lives are affected by the current economic downturn, but children will be most affected by some measures designed to balance budgets.

Tonight, a group of youth leaders and the Supportive Parents Information Network, or SPIN, will make a presentation to the San Diego Human Relations Commission to urge them to take a stronger stand for kids.

Joni Halpern, the director of SPIN, told KPBS that city budget cuts mean reduced library hours, which impact students' ability to do their homework. She said increased water costs mean some families have lost their water for weeks at a time. And transportation costs have caused some people to lose their jobs, or reduce their working hours.

San Diego students are addressing these issues in letters to the San Diego Human Relations Commission.

"People say 'Go to the library.' But it's closed a lot of the time," wrote Jorge Garcia, age 12.

Mark Dillon, the vice-chair of the San Diego Human Relations Commission, said its job is to bring exposure to groups like SPIN with complaints. The 15-member commission advises the mayor and City Council. Seven of its members are appointed by the mayor, and one member is appointed by each councilmember.

"We don't have any authority to do anything, we don't have any budget, but we work with SPIN in this case to elevate the issues," he said.

He said the commission has provided exposure in the past to issues like food stamps and cyber bullying.

But he said planning, like SPIN has provided, is key.

"You can't just come to the commission and complain," he said. "You need to come with the kind of planning and background they have provided."

Claire Trageser contributed to this report.

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