Financial literacy is no laughing matter

Feather Publishing

Labor Day has come and gone - and still we have no state budget.

But, hey, the Legislature had time to pass a bill that would help educate Californians about "financial literacy."

Uh huh.

Have our legislators no sense of irony? No impulse to self-protection from ridicule?

The mind reels at the possible curriculum: How to pay your employees with vouchers, how to rob Peter to pay Paul, how to avoid balancing your budget ...

The measure would create a Financial Literacy Fund in the state controller's office to accept private donations that would be used to educate Californians about financial matters.

A bill proponent argued, "Financial illiteracy and the consequences of uninformed financial decisions are a growing problem in California."

No, really?

The proponent continued, "The creation of a financial literacy fund would provide a central funding source for organizations who wish to partner with California on financial literacy efforts. In the long run, educating Californians would result in benefits to the economy by helping to prevent bankruptcies, foreclosures, and job loss."

Might we make the outrageous suggestion that the state get its own financial house in order before it starts telling others how to run theirs? Have legislators not heard of leading by example?

At least one legislator criticized the move, calling it "unseemly" for the Legislature to be promoting financial literacy while failing to balance the state's budget.

It's more than unseemly. Although the bill is easy to make fun of, the state's fiscal irresponsibility is no laughing matter. Just ask Feather River College. Because there is no state budget, the school has not received its apportionment money for the last two months - a total of $1 million. As a result, the school is quickly developing a serious cash flow problem. The college is a major employer in our county and purchases a wide variety of goods and services from local vendors. Its problem is quickly going to become our problem.

Perhaps the college should apply to the new state financial literacy fund to offer additional classes.

The first student to enroll should be the state itself.

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