York Dispatch: York’s Local and State Leaders Advocate Pre-K Expansion, But Argue Cost

By Jessica Schladebeck

York County’s local and state leaders seem to agree that early education is a key to reducing future taxpayer expenses, including incarceration, but some are skeptical that Yorker Gov. Tom Wolf will get the increased investment he outlined for the coming year’s budget.

An initiative to expand early learning programs, spearheaded by Pre-K for PA, brought together teachers, advocates and state leaders Friday at West Manchester Township’s Wyndham Garden Hotel to discuss the benefit and the necessity of pre-k for Pennsylvania.

Wolf has proposed an additional $120 million for pre-k programs. And though local officials might support expansion, at least one said it’s unlikely the Democratic governor’s request will make it into the final state budget.

“As a supporter of pre-k, I have to be blunt for you: You’re not going to get the $120 million. The financial support just isn’t there for it yet,” said Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, noting that he does believe there will still be some additional funding for K-12 as well as early education programs.

“There is a commitment from Democrats, Republicans and our governor to keep these programs growing,” he said. “Right now, it’s just a question of how much we’ll be able to get.”

Every dollar invested in early education will generate $1.79 in immediate return and up to $17 in the long term, said Tom Wray, executive director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia.

The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia is one of 10 partners in Pre-K for PA, an initiative advocating for every 3- and 4-year old  to have high-quality pre-k.

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