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Spending on State Preschool Programs Rises Again in 2015-16

For the fourth-straight year, state spending on publicly funded preschool has increased, according to the latest report by the Education Commission of the States, a state education policy think tank.

State PreK Spending.pngThirty-two states and the District of Columbia increased spending on preschool, while only nine* states decreased funding. Of the states that made increases, 22 had Republican governors and 10 had Democratic governors. Overall, spending increased by 12 percent over 2014-15 to a total of $7 billion in 2015-16.

One of the biggest per capita increases in preschool spending comes in Minnesota, which will invest nearly $28 million more in 2015-16 than it did the previous year. The state added just over $11 million to the budget for its 3- and 4-year-old school-readiness program and about $16.5 million in new funds to early-learning scholarships. (Getting there was quite a battle though, as I wrote about in a couple of 2015 posts. Read the final one here.)

State PreK per capita.pngNew Jersey, New York, Vermont, and West Virginia  all spend more than $1,500 on public preschool per preschool-aged resident. The District of Columbia spends $12,407, far and away the most per preschool-aged resident. The other states all spend less than $1,500, though some cities, like Boston, New York City, and Tulsa, have separate budgets that significantly supplement state funds.

Three years ago, 11 states did not fund preschool at all. This year, there are only five holdouts: Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Finally, Pennsylvania, still doesn't have a budget, which has affected its state preschool program. Due to the impasse, the state was not included in this year's calculations, according to ECS.

Read the full report here.

Graphics: "State Pre-K Funding for 2015-16 Fiscal Year: National trends in state preschool funding," Education Commission of the States

*Correction: This post has been corrected to reflect that nine states decreased funding for preschool in 2015-16.

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