Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) 2013 budget request for an additional $65 million in spending on preschool, a 60 percent increase over the current funding level, is set to be signed into law soon, the Detroit Free Press reports. The money will help pay for the full cost of preschool for low-income families who make up to 250 percent of the poverty line. The new funding will mean as many as 16,000 more four year olds will be able to attend preschool next year.
Snyder is also expected to ask for another $65 million in his 2014 budget, which would bring the number of four year olds enrolled in preschool from the current 32,000 to 66,000 in two years.
At a conference of business and political leaders, the Republican said he was “really proud” of the agreement to increase spending on early childhood education. “Over the next two years we’re going to get rid of the waiting list for kids in the state of Michigan to say they can have preschool now,” he said.
Unlike two other budget proposals to expand Medicaid and raise taxes and fees for road maintenance, the preschool proposal had broad support from bipartisan political leaders and the business community.
The American business community has been vocal in its support of increased preschool enrollment in the country. Three hundred business leaders and organizations, including representatives from Proctor & Gamble, Citibank, Delta, IBM, and McKinsey, sent an open letter last month to President Obama and members of Congress urging them to take action on Obama’s proposal to expand preschool. They cited the increase in a skilled workforce and economic output that comes from investing in preschool.
The benefits of preschool to children and society have been supported by a body of research, the latest of which finds that it boosts children’s IQ and education levels, reduces inequality, increases the college completion rate, lifts people out of poverty, and could mean an extra $113 in income per year for all Americans. Other studies have found that universal programs lead to increases in human capital and GDP and that every dollar spent on early childhood education generates about $7 in savings.