Pre-K Now Reports on the States
This morning, Pre-K Now released its annual Votes Count report, which summarizes state legislative action on pre-k during the 2009 legislative session, including pre-k funding in states' fiscal year 2010 budgets. This year's report focuses on which states have maintained and even increased pre-k investments despite budget shortfalls caused by the past year's economic pinch, and which states are falling behind.
Overall, Pre-K Now says that "the news for young children is surprisingly good." 27 of the 38 states that had state-funded pre-k programs in fiscal year 2009 (as well as the District of Columbia) managed to either increase pre-k funding or maintain current funding levels. That adds up to $187 million dollars of new money for pre-k in fiscal year 2010. Further, of the 10 states with the biggest budget shortfalls this year, seven managed to either increase or maintain their pre-k spending for the 2010 year.
The report groups states into 5 main categories:
- State champions: Alabama and New Jersey earned Pre-K Now's top praises for their pre-k efforts.
- States new to pre-k: Despite budget shortfalls of their own, Alaska and Rhode Island both approved their first state-funded pre-k programs for the 2010 fiscal year, bringing the total number of states investing in pre-k to 41.
- States that came close: In Texas and Washington, legislative measures to improve pre-k quality and increase funding were thwarted by gubernatorial vetoes.
- States that struggled: Pennsylvania and Michigan had their share of hiccups while trying to negotiate FY2010 budgets. Ultimately, Michigan averted a budget that would have devastated pre-k funding, but still decreased its investment in pre-k by about 7 percent. Pennsylvania flat-funded its major pre-k programs for the coming year, but a drawn-out budget battle-the state legislature just completed work on the fiscal year 2010 budget last week -forced many providers to delay or cancel programs this fall.
- The state of Ohio: If Alabama and New Jersey get gold stars, Ohio gets the biggest frowny face for its pre-k funding record this year. Even though Ohio's 5 percent budget shortfall of 5 percent was far more mild than those in many states, the state "chose to decimate" its pre-k system, according to Pre-k Now, and will serve at least 12,000 fewer low-income children (a decrease of more than 50 percent) during the coming year.
Votes Count 2009 also looks at progress and funding strategies in the eight states (as well as the District of Columbia) that have committed to work towards universal, voluntary pre-k. The report commends Oklahoma, D.C., Iowa, West Virginia, and Georgia for being "on track" towards achieving universal pre-k.
To find out more about how states fared under the Pre-K Now study, read the full report.