Even as they confront the fiscal crisis and whittle spending to core priorities, the majority of the nation’s governors are increasing or protecting their state’s investments in pre-kindergarten programs in the coming fiscal year. Five times as many governors are proposing to protect or increase pre-k, as are those who are calling for cuts to early education. Three governors are even introducing new initiatives in states that currently offer no publicly funded pre-k, according to a national analysis released today by Pre-K Now, a campaign of the Pew Center on the States.
“Leaders of both parties recognize that pre-k is precisely the kind of fiscally responsible investment we need to achieve both economic and educational progress,” said Susan K. Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States. “Given the evidence showing the proven benefits for children and the return on investment to taxpayers, it is wise for states to increase, or at least protect, pre-k even in a recession.”
The non-partisan annual report, “Leadership Matters: Governors’ Pre-K Budget Proposals Fiscal Year 2010,” evaluates budget proposals for the next year and governors’ remarks in recent state of the state addresses to determine which leaders count voluntary, high-quality pre-k among their top education and economic development strategies. The findings underscore a growing interest among federal and state policymakers in targeting limited public resources to effective programs backed by research. This year’s report also addresses federal action, such as the Obama administration’s inclusion of funding proposals for early education in the stimulus package.