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'Sid the Science Kid' might be a victim of the budget crisis

November 21, 2008 |  7:10 am

A cute cartoon character named Sid has kids all over America glued to the tube, but he has also become a controversial figure in the heated debate over California’s budget crisis.

With the state Legislature huddling to find ways to close a $28-billion budget gap during the next 20 months, some lawmakers are questioning a decision to use $4 million in voter-approved tobacco tax money to put "Sid the Science Kid" on public broadcast stations across the United States.

Kris Perry, the head of First Five, the agency that spends the tobacco tax money, said helping to pay for the cartoon "is completely within our mandate" to extend early childhood education to as many children as possible.

"It is reaching preschool age children who do not have access to preschool," she said. "It is a high quality educational program that helps kids understand scientific concepts."

But Sen. Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks) says that the state should not be funding the filming of cartoons when healthcare programs for children are under threat. He told The Times that he has written legislation to reappropriate the $4 million.

"Clearly, healthcare for low-income California children should be a higher priority than the development of a cartoon show," he said.

-- Patrick McGreevy

Photo credit: pbskids.org