If all of the governors’ FY 2011 budgets were to pass as proposed, total state pre-K funding would remain roughly the same as FY 2010 – about $5.3 billion, says Pre-K Now’s just-released Leadership Matters report. Beyond the national total, however, lie big variations, ranging from expansion plans in Alabama to elimination of state pre-K in Arizona. Among the highlights are these:
• Nine governors would increase pre-K investments. These proposals would increase funding for early learning in these states by a total of $78.5 million.
• Three states and the District of Columbia anticipate an increase for pre-K through their school funding formulas.
• Ten governors are proposing to flat fund pre-K. These proposals maintain funding for early learning at FY10 levels and include Alaska and Rhode Island, which both started new programs in FY10.
• Twelve governors are proposing to decrease pre-K funding. In these states, early learning investments would decline by a total of $100.6 million.
• Ten states continue to provide no state-funded pre-K.
This year’s report is a handy resource because it’s online and interactive, with a search feature that provide metrics on pre-K funding for a given state, including the five-year trend, a snapshot of the governors’ stances on pre-K, and even a glance at pre-K in neighboring states.
Of course, governors don’t always get what they want, so this picture is likely to change, not least because of the tough choices state leaders must make in the current recessionary environment. That’s one reason Pre-K Now project director Marci Young is calling on Congress to include incentives in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind Act reauthorization) that strengthen state investments in pre-K.