The Iowa Business Council, a group representing Iowa’s 20 largest employers, is urging lawmakers not eliminate state funding for public preschool programs. The executive director of the Iowa Business Council testified Monday before the Senate Education Committee.
Elliott Smith told lawmakers the state has an economic and moral imperative to make sure its youngest citizens are prepared for success. The quality of Iowa’s education system has been a top priority for the Business Council for many years. It’s the graduates of this system from which our labor pool is stocked and replenished,” Smith said.
“Access to quality early childhood education should be available to parents of all Iowa children regardless of socioeconomic status — with no gaps.” According to Smith, state-funded preschool is a selling point when Iowa businesses are trying to lure employees to move here from other states.
“Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Texas, South Carolina, Massachusetts — in total, 38 states in this country promote some form of state-funded preschool programming,” Smith said. Last week, Republicans in the Iowa House approved a bill that completely eliminated state support for public preschool programs for four-year-olds.
Governor Branstad has said he supports providing subsidies or vouchers to lower income parents who can’t afford to pay preschool tuition, but earn too much to qualify for HeadStart, the federally-run preschool program.