Republican governors are urging support of Governor Bullock’s preschool grant program proposal to invest in early learning and help ensure every Montana child enters kindergarten ready to learn.
During the hearing on House Bill 563 today, Republican governors from Mississippi, Nevada, and Oklahoma provided letters of testimony encouraging the Montana Legislature to invest in publicly funded preschool education.
“Investing in a Montana preschool grant program will ultimately create stronger, safer and more economically vibrant communities,” said Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. “Good policy addresses a real issue within the context of the state and is built on evidence-based principles. Quality early childhood education has proven itself a sound economic investment in our children and in the future of our state.”
“Preschool programs also support our economy by allowing greater participation in the labor force and reducing absenteeism among working parents,” said Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. “Economists have found that early intervention programs such as preschool have more impact than any other preventative measure, and therefore are a responsible and critical use of state tax dollars.”
“As each of you considers the difficult budget decisions ahead, I hope you will consider the impact pre-kindergarten education has on school readiness, particularly for the most vulnerable children,” said Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin. “These programs change young lives and improve the trajectory of families.”
On Friday, Republican Governor Robert Bentley of Alabama sent a member of his cabinet to Montana to tout the benefits of their publicly funded preschool program. As part of the visit, Secretary for the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, Jeana Ross, met with Montana legislators to urge support for Governor Bullock’s proposal.
“This is absolutely not a partisan issue at all, because this is one thing that all of our lawmakers understand,” Secretary Ross said during a visit with press on Friday. “This is just good for the children of Alabama. It’s one thing they can agree on.”
Governor Bullock’s $12 million preschool grant program proposal would allow school districts, Head Start programs, and high-quality private preschool providers to offer preschool for four-year-old kids at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
Montana is currently one of only six states without a publicly funded pre-kindergarten option for four-year-olds.
Read the full letters from the Republican governors here: Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma