Talk Business reports on a meeting in Jonesboro yesterday held by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families aiming to galvanize support for more pre-k funding in the upcoming legislative session.
Arkansas Advocates and other groups are asking the legislature to increase annual pre-k funding by $16 million.
The Arkansas Better Chance program, which provides pre-k to 25,000 children aged 3-4, had been flat funded since 2008, leaving more than 15,000 eligible low-income children in the state without slots. In 2015, Gov. Asa Hutchinson appropriated $3 million in new pre-k funds, but it was one-time money split between 2015 and 2016.
While an important first step, as Arkansas Advocates put it at the time, it “falls far short of the $16 million increase in annual state funding that ABC needs to make the program whole again after going without a dime of new money for eight years.”
House Minority Leader Michael John Gray tried to increase annual pre-k funding by $10 million during the 2016 fiscal session only to be rebuffed by the Hutchinson administration and Republicans in the legislature.