Governor Tom Vilsack this (Monday) morning called in a leader from the Iowa Business Council to make another pitch for a 39-million dollar spending plan to boost preschool education in Iowa. It’s the latest of many Vilsack public appearances seeking support for the plan. Tom Aller, president of Interstate Power and Light in Cedar Rapids, is a member the Iowa Business Council, which represents Iowa’s 20 largest businesses, employing 150-thousand Iowans. “It is clear that we should be very proud of the efforts that previous legislatures and governors, regardless of party, have made in our educational system over the last four or five decades,” Aller says. “But it is also very clear studies and recent evidence I think has convinced us all that who each of us is and what we are to become is in large part determined in those first four or five years of life, before we enter the school system.” Aller says it’s “terribly important” that legislators make a long-term, sustainable and permanent commitment to spend more state money on pre-school programs. Aller says the state’s business community sees the longterm benefit of enhanced preschool when they start to hire new workers.Aller says skills like collaboration are often learned before a person goes to kindergarten. Back in January, Vilsack asked legislators to act quickly and provide the 39-million immediately to the effort to boost pre-K programs could begin now rather than when the next state budgeting year begins in July, Legislators have yet to provide the money, but Vilsack is undaunted.”I think it’s important for legislators to understand that there’s a broad base of support for early childhood (education spending),” Vilsack says. “It’s not just educators. It’s business leaders. It’s health care professionals. It’s government leaders. It’s people who understand that if we invest in these young people now, we’ll save a lot of money in the future.” Aller — the businessman from Cedar Rapids — also used his appearance this morning before the statehouse media to make a pitch for the defunct Iowa Values economic development Fund which legislators may reestablish. Aller says some in Iowa’s business community were skeptical of the program at its inception, but he says it’s been shown to “clearly” work in terms of stimulating capital investment in the state.
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