Indiana Senate slashes pre-K funding proposal by millions, passes bill 41-9

Update (2/28) – The Indiana Senate has approved a bill slashing a request by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to increase funding for a program sending needy kids to preschool.

The bill passed Tuesday on a 41-9 vote. It trims Holcomb’s $10 million requested increase to $3 million.

It also sets aside $1 million for an online preschool program that House Speaker Brian Bosma is skeptical of. Lawmakers are looking at a program by Utah-based Waterford Institute that offers 15-minute-long daily online lessons for preschoolers.

Supporters of the measure by Republican Sen. Travis Holdman of Markle say it takes an important step that will grow the state’s fledging pre-kindergarten program.

Some Democrats say much more funding is needed, but they supported the bill to keep the effort alive.

Original story: 

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana Senate panel is slashing a proposed funding increase for a program that provides state-funded preschool to poor children, jeopardizing a campaign promise made by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.

The GOP-dominated Senate Appropriations Committee endorsed the move Thursday to sharply curtail the governor’s modest request for $10 million a year in additional funding.

An amendment brought by committee Chairman Luke Kenley cuts the increase to just $3 million a year. That would push total funding for the On My Way Pre-K program, which operates in five counties, to $13 million a year.

The move imperils efforts by Republican and Democratic education leaders to help Indiana catch up with more than 40 other states that offer full-fledged preschool programs for children from low-income families.