State Pre-K Funding: 2012-13 School Year


Policymakers around the country showed their support for pre-kindergarten programs in their 2012-13 state budgets. An analysis conducted by the Education Commission of the States (ECS) found that the majority of state policymakers around the country have spared pre-K funding from the chopping block, and in about half of the states, increased funding—many substantially.

This is impressive when one considers that at least 26 states cut K-12 spending on a per-student basis in the 2012-13 school year.1 In contrast, ECS found that funding for pre-K programs serving 4-year-olds increased by $181 million (3.6%) to a total of $5.3 billion in 2012-13. More than half of this increase— $104 million—comes from California. Not every state experienced positive funding growth. Of the 40 states that provide funding for pre-K, 23 states plus the District of Columbia increased their funding levels and eight kept levels the same, while eight states made cuts.

Despite an improving economy in the 2012-13 fiscal year, state budgets grew only 2.2% on average— about half the rate of typical budget growth. This means that state policymakers continue to be faced with tough decisions about where to spend their limited revenues. Even in this climate, with ever- increasing awareness of the impact quality early learning has on 3rd-grade reading proficiency, more states are preserving or even boosting their funding for pre-K. This is particularly noteworthy as many states have reduced their overall education budgets, have increasing costs in Medicaid and public pensions, and are dealing with limited growth in their budgets.

Source: Education Commission of the States

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