Washington, D.C. -
09/25/2007 - A record-breaking 36 states increased funding for pre-kindergarten according to a report released today by Pre-K Now. “Votes Count: Legislative Action on Pre-K Fiscal Year 2008,” an annual state-by-state analysis of legislative support for pre-K, shows historic momentum for funding early education across the country, with 528 million new dollars committed to providing at least 88,000 more children access to pre-K. The number of states increasing pre-K funding breaks last year’s record of 34, and far exceeds the FY05 record of 15.
“Investing in pre-K is increasingly recognized as smart public policy at both the state and federal level,” said Libby Doggett, executive director for Pre-K Now. “States play a vital role in preparing future generations for success in education and in life. By making pre-K a priority, state legislators help parents make the most of their children’s critical early learning years.”
Iowa stands out for becoming one of seven states that are now providing or phasing in pre-K for all children, while three states - Arkansas, Louisiana and Oregon - moved to fully fund pre-K for all eligible at-risk children – a strong step toward providing pre-K for all. Notably, Florida, the only state with a voter mandate to provide pre-K for all 4-year-olds, was the lone state to decrease funding for pre-K.
“Votes Count” also highlights the spirit of bipartisanship that characterizes legislative work on the issue. It examines the “trickle up” phenomenon playing out at the federal level as well, with key members of Congress recently introducing bills to provide federal support for state pre-K programs and quality improvements within them.
Additional report findings include:
• A total of $4.8 billion in state funds will be spent in FY08 nationally – a $2 billion increase in just three years;
• Eight of the 36 increasing states anticipate enrollment-based pre-K budget growth;
• Just one state, Florida, decreased pre-K funding;
• Iowa and Pennsylvania had the highest increases at 241 and 135 percent, respectively; and
• Ten states still do not have pre-K programs, resulting in more than 500,000 children without access to quality, state-funded pre-K settings which have been proven to help all children.
“State lawmakers face the daunting task of determining the priorities that represent the wisest investment of taxpayer dollars,” said Susan Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States, a division of The Pew Charitable Trusts. “State leaders who have invested in high-quality pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds understand that it will yield significant returns for their state. States that choose not to invest may find that their children and their economies are not prepared to compete.”
To view a copy of the report, please visit: www.preknow.org.