Governor Steve Bullock today released the following statement after Republican legislators tabled House Bill 563, the preschool grant program proposal:
“Today Republican legislators again told Montanans that our kids’ education and futures are not a priority,” said Governor Bullock. “As a father and someone who wants all of Montana’s kids to succeed, I find it beyond disappointing that Republicans refuse to make a responsible economic investment that will benefit Montana families for generations to come.”
On Monday, the House Education committee heard Governor Bullock’s proposal for $12 million in grants to allow school districts, Head Start programs, and high-quality preschool providers to offer preschool for four-year-old kids at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. House Bill 563 was sponsored by Representative Kathy Kelker.
Dozens of parents, teachers, business leaders, and school administrators testified in support of the bill. The bill had only one opponent, the Koch funded Americans for Prosperity. Republican governors from three states submitted letters to the committee, and Alabama’s Secretary for the Department of Early Childhood Education visited Montana, to urge support of Governor Bullock’s proposal and highlight economic benefits of early learning programs in their states. Montana is currently one of only six states without a publicly funded pre-kindergarten option for four-year-olds.
The bill was tabled on party line vote.