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Cincinnati Leaders Launch Preschool-for-All Initiative

A group called Cincinnati's Preschool Promise is working on a ballot initiative that would provide two years of publicly funded preschool to toddlers in the Ohio city. 

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the group has not yet decided whether the program would be aimed at 3-year-olds who live in the city—which would carry a price tag of $16 million to $18 million—or whether it would be open to all children in Hamilton County. That would double the cost. A steering committee plans to tackle that and other issues, including just how such a program would be funded. Choices include a sales tax, a property tax, or a school levy. 

The plan, however, is to put the question to voters by November 2016.

"This is a once-in-a generation opportunity, and I think people are arriving at that place, recognizing that this is something we ought to do. ... The question is how we do it," Greg Landsman, a member of the preschool promise steering committee, told the newspaper. 

The organization has commissioned research that indicates an investment in preschool pays large dividends: the Economics Center at the University of Cincinnati released a paper in February 2014 claiming that enrolling 3-year-olds in high-quality preschool could lead to nearly $48 million in savings for the city (assuming that the children stay in the city for a lifetime). Those benefits would come from increased earnings (and resulting tax revenue), less involvement in the criminal justice system, and reduction in school costs for remediation and special education.

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