SACRAMENTO — One of Gov. Pete Wilson's prized ideas--creation of a new Office of Child Development and Education to coordinate the state's array of health and education programs for children--apparently has been lost in the scuffling over reapportionment.
Legislation to create the $1.7-million office passed the Senate and reached the Assembly floor but was referred to the Assembly Human Services Committee for a hearing next year.
"The Speaker (Willie Brown, D-San Francisco) tried to leverage the reapportionment issue and kids be damned," said Maureen DiMarco, who has been serving as secretary of child development and education since January. "It didn't work."
A key legislative aide, who asked not to be identified, confirmed that the bill, sponsored by Sen. Becky Morgan (R-Los Altos Hills) became a pawn in the reapportionment struggle between the governor and Brown.
A spokesman for Brown said there is always a chance the measure could be approved before the Legislature adjourns for the year.
DiMarco will continue in her job, as part of the governor's personal staff, and will add 10 or 12 new people to her staff of eight.
But, she said, "this delays the effort to really organize children's efforts for another year."
DiMarco said she had hoped to start administering such new programs as "Healthy Start," a $20-million plan to join social services and schools, providing all of the services needed by low-income children and their families at one location. Now "Healthy Start" will be run by the state Department of Education.