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First lady of Missouri testifies in favor of husband's proposal

February 02, 1998
By: Emily Goodin
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The first lady of Missouri spoke in favor of her husband's child care proposal Monday night - the first time she's ever testified before the legislature.

"I come before you as a mother and a grandmother, deeply concerned about the future of our children," Jean Carnahan told the House Veterans Committee.

Carnahan called the child care situation in Missouri a "quiet crisis" and spoke of the importance of early brain development in children.

"If we were losing any other valuable resource in our state like we are losing brain power, we would declare an emergency," she said.

Gov. Mel Carnahan has proposed a $56 million Early Childhood Education Fund, which would provide school-linked day care, improve child care providers training and expand early childhood programs.

Both he and his wife have stressed the need for this because of more children with working parents, more children with single parents and more welfare moms going to work.

The proposal comes under a bill entitled "Distribution of Gaming Funds Money" because about $20 million of gaming funds would go to it and the rest of the funds would go to the Veterans Commission Capital Improvements Fund and the Missouri National Guard Trust Fund.

Jean Carnahan spoke to a standing-room only crowd for about five minutes, with no questions from committee members.

"Yes," she replied afterward when reporters asked her if she was nervous. "Wouldn't you be if you were up there?"