Rep. Sarah Buxton says about 38 percent of Vermont's 3- and 4-year-olds are in pre-kindergarten.
"We know that's not high enough," said Buxton, D-Royalton.
Pre-K is not mandatory, and 84 percent of those in the age range can access local Ed fund dollars to pay for it, even though less than half of them are enrolled.
Buxton is sponsoring a bill to mandate universal access to qualified programs. She says that should raise enrollment to 60 percent by the time school starts in the fall of 2015.
"It's good for taxpayers, and it's really good for kids," she said.
The proposal bears an expected cost of $1.2 million in 2016 and nearly $10 million by 2020. Proponents argue the Ed fund is likely to see those hikes regardless. They say the investment should help kids succeed and create large cost savings in remedial education as students age.
It's an issue the governor prominently highlighted in his January budget address, but the bill still has a long legislative journey in front of it, and legislators hope to wrap up work by the weekend.
"Quality early education reaps returns," said Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland County.
Mullin supports the bill and is working to get it through a couple of Senate committees, the floor, and back to the House before legislators return home for the year. He says he's cautiously optimistic the measure will become law this year.
"There's better than a 50 percent chance that it gets done," Mullin said. "That doesn't mean it will be done, but we're still working fast and furiously."
Controversial issues have consumed large amounts of the Senate's time this week. If other bills continue to prove to be significant distractions in the coming days, it could mean the pre-K funding bill will be shelved until next year.
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:12 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:12:18 GMT
There's been a tragedy on the Burlington beltway Thursday night. Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltway. The name has been releasedMore >>
Burlington Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltline.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:08 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:08:04 GMT
Police say two people found dead at a home in Stowe are believed to have died in a murder-suicide. Police are still not releasing their names or the cause of death, but they say the victims are adults. StoweMore >>
A Stowe couple is dead after what police say was a murder-suicide. The news came as a shock to neighbors who say they never noticed any red flags. More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 6:58 PM EDT2014-04-17 22:58:26 GMT
A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury. Timothy Foley did appear in court Thursday in Middlebury. He wasn't there last time,More >>
A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:26 AM EDT2014-04-17 15:26:34 GMT
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to...More >>
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to 12 months.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:16 GMT
A teenager has been arrested for making a bomb threat in St. Albans. Police say the threat was made to Project SOAR, an alternative school, Wednesday morning. The building was searched and no bomb wasMore >>
Police say a teenager has been arrested for allegedly making a bomb threat to an alternative school in St. Albans.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:01 GMT
A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington. Police say Grace Maddaloni, 88, disappeared Wednesday after what they called a "disagreement." Because of her age and being in theMore >>
A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 7:07 PM EDT2014-04-17 23:07:19 GMT
IBM and chip production may soon be parting ways. The Wall Street Journal reports that Big Blue is looking to unload three chipmaking plants-- two in upstate New York and its Vermont plant in Essex Junction.More >>
With indications IBM may sell off its chipmaking plants, we talked to the company experts say may buy them. GlobalFoundries already has employees working at IBM in Essex Junction through a partnership, and experts say that could help the company decide whether the plant is a worthy investment.More >>