Mo. takes steps toward better funding of early childhood education

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Missouri is one of several states taking steps to boost funding for early childhood education as the economy improves. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon told the Early Childhood Education Commission at the Kauffman Center that there's no higher priority than early education for children.

The governor says he restored slots for Early Head Start programs that had been cut a year ago because he shares the goal of making sure all children in Missouri are ready for kindergarten.

President Obama has proposed a $75 billion plan to provide universal preschool to nearly all 4 year olds. But while the idea is stalled in Congress, several states, including Missouri, are moving in that direction on their own.

The Kansas City area lost 119 state-funded slots for Early Head Start last year because of legislative budget cuts.

As the economy bounced back, Nixon made restoring those positions a priority. There's $3 million more for early childhood education in the Show-Me state this year. There's also an additional $10 million in early childhood education development grants. Nixon called education the best economic development tool in Missouri.

"The long run investment in preschool, there's just nothing more important when it comes to long range education," Nixon said. "That's why these programs will continue to be at the top of the list for funding for the Nixon administration."

The governor is concerned about a tax cut bill he vetoed. He called it a tax policy experiment similar to the one Kansas has enacted. Nixon says in Missouri it would cost the state $800 million in revenue and that would destroy all efforts to expand early childhood education subsidies.

Conservatives are fighting the president's plan for universal pre-kindergarten, calling it too-far reaching, and saying it would further increase the nation's deficit.

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