A bill making its way through the Arizona State Legislature aims to help get more young children through pre-kindergarten programs.
“House Bill 2015 calls for Arizona to fund high-quality pre-K programs for kids throughout the state who wouldn’t have access otherwise,” Democratic State Rep. Lorenzo Sierra said.
If approved, the bill would allocate $45 million state dollars for pre-K programs over the next three years.
“I believe we should be investing in our youngest scholars,” Sierra said. “We start out at $7.5 million in the first year, $15 million in the next year, and all the way up to $22.5 million.”
HB 2015 cleared the House Education Committee on Tuesday and was scheduled to go before the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
The bill mirrors HB 2806 that was introduced last year but was halted when the legislative session was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
Sierra said his bill would help replace federal pre-K funding that the state lost two years ago. He adds it’s a good investment for the state.
“A high-quality pre-K program offers a return on investment anywhere from $8 for every dollar invested all the way up to $17 for every dollar investment,” he said. “That is the investment that we get in terms of those children being able to live full, healthy lives.”
Supporters of the bill include State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, who stated in a tweet on Tuesday that “access to early childhood education is a proven way to invest in the future of our state.”
Numerous early child advocacy groups, including Stand for Children and Children’s Action Alliance, have also voiced support for the bill.