INDIANAPOLIS – On Tuesday, Senate Democrat Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) released the following statement after the passage of a scaled-back version of the prekindergarten expansion proposal by a vote of 41-9.

“In the end, this is not a perfect solution to the early childhood education shortfalls that we are experiencing in this state.

“With that being said, I think it is important to note the Republican majority approved a version of the prekindergarten bill that expands participation in the pilot program to every county in the state.

“However, one would intuitively think there should be a correlation between expanded opportunities for pre-K providers in all counties and increased funding. That is not the case here.

“We have provided 87 additional counties with the ability to receive funding for pre-K, while only appropriating an additional five million dollars. That simply doesn’t cut it and won’t meet the need and interest.

“I am encouraged we are taking a statewide look at this program, but as the proposal stands now, we will only create a longer waiting list while providers in the counties wait for the state to catch up.

“Prekindergarten works. The return on investment is there; the interest is there; and the educational and social outcomes are there. It is time we take a long look at how we can make this program work for everyone, and the Senate Democrats will continue to advocate for the funding this program deserves.”

Senate Bill (SB) 276 was approved by the Senate by a vote of 41-9 and will now move to the House of Representatives for further consideration.