INGov Summary: Eric Holcomb Called Universal Pre-K a “Pie in the Sky” Idea

INDIANAPOLIS – With less than a week to go before Election Day, it is important to remember who has advocated for universal Pre-K for all Hoosier children. It’s not Eric Holcomb and Mike Pence, who had their chance to establish a Pre-K program for all children across the state and did not take it.

Instead, they declined an $80 million grant – leaving many children behind and others waiting in line for a pilot program that serves just a fraction of Hoosier children. Holcomb even refused to commit to creating a universal Pre-K system by calling it a “pie in the sky” opportunity.

“The Pence-Holcomb Administration has proven that when it comes to investing in the future of our children, education, and the state’s well-being – they’d rather stick to their political agenda that leaves us falling behind,” said Drew Anderson, communications director. “Eric Holcomb supported Mike Pence’s decision to block an $80 million grant for statewide Pre-K and has since ignored a common sense idea for a universal program for all. With more than 82% of Hoosiers supporting a statewide Pre-K program, Eric Holcomb’s opposition is out of touch with voters in the state.”

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: HOW PENCE-HOLCOMB HAVE FLUBBED ON APPROACH TO STATEWIDE PRE-K

Holcomb Called Universal Pre-K a “Pie in the Sky”

Holcomb Said That “Schools Aren’t Ready” To Do Universal Pre-K In The Next Budget Cycle. According to an interview with the Indianapolis Star, the interviewer asked, “Do we need it in all 92 counties in the next budget cycle?” Holcomb said, “If schools… First and foremost, if the schools in Ohio County can handle it, or Switzerland County, or Marion County for that reason, I talk to enough educators on the trail [38:00] that say — we’re not ready for that right now. I tend to trust them. If they are in fact the ones telling me that we’d like to get there at some point, but we’re not ready yet; many schools are ready. We need to take an inventory of that, and then we need to assess what would it cost to go right down the middle of the road. [38:30] To do it all overnight is just pie in the sky, in my opinion; it’s not feasible; it’s not A) affordable and it’s not… Schools aren’t ready to do it.” [Indianapolis Star, Interview, 8/29/16]
Pence Makes Election Year Flip-Flop on Pre-K

Indianapolis Star: “In An About-Face, Pence Expresses Interest In Federal Pre-K Grant.” [Indianapolis Star, 6/2/16]

Indianapolis Star: “Two Year After Passing Up Millions Of Dollars In Federal Preschool Funding, Pence Said He Is Now Interested In The Money.” According to the Indianapolis Star, “Two years after passing up millions of dollars in federal preschool funding, Gov. Mike Pence says he is now interested in the money. In a letter Thursday to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Pence expressed interest in expanding the state’s $10-million-a-year preschool pilot program with the help of the federal grant program…”[Indianapolis Star, 6/2/16]
Overwhelming Demand for Pre-K

HEADLINE: “Hoosier Survey Shows Overwhelming Support For Pre-K Funding” [WISH-TV, 11/10/14]

82 Percent Of Hoosiers Said Pre-Kindergarten Should Be A Publicly-Funded Program Available To All Children In Indiana.“New findings in the WISH-TV/Ball State Hoosier Survey show that state funding for pre-Kindergarten is a popular idea… The Hoosier Survey found that more than 4 out of 5 Hoosiers think the state should pick up the bill.  82 percent say it should be available to all children in Indiana. Just 15 percent are opposed. ‘90 percent of Democrats favor this,’ said Ball State professor Joe Losco, ‘but also 70 percent of Republicans favor it.’” [WISH-TV, 11/10/14]

90 Percent Of Democrat Hoosiers Said Pre-Kindergarten Should Be A Publicly-Funded Program Available To All Children In Indiana. “New findings in the WISH-TV/Ball State Hoosier Survey show that state funding for pre-Kindergarten is a popular idea… The Hoosier Survey found that more than 4 out of 5 Hoosiers think the state should pick up the bill.  82 percent say it should be available to all children in Indiana. Just 15 percent are opposed. ‘90 percent of Democrats favor this,’ said Ball State professor Joe Losco, ‘but also 70 percent of Republicans favor it.’” [WISH-TV, 11/10/14]

Majority of Families Who Applied for Indiana’s Preschool Pilot Program Were Turned Away. “The majority of families who applied for Indiana’s new preschool pilot program for disadvantaged children were turned away due to limited funding. The program, which was signed into law in 2014 by Republican Gov. Mike Pence, set aside $10 million a year to send as many as 2,500 children from low-income families to preschool in five counties. But demand has outstripped the amount of money lawmakers made available for the program, which is offered in Marion, Lake, Allen, Jackson and Vanderburgh counties. As a result, only about 43 percent of those who applied were accepted.” [Associated Press, 11/30/15]

Only 43 Percent of Those Who Applied Were Accepted. “The majority of families who applied for Indiana’s new preschool pilot program for disadvantaged children were turned away due to limited funding. The program, which was signed into law in 2014 by Republican Gov. Mike Pence, set aside $10 million a year to send as many as 2,500 children from low-income families to preschool in five counties. But demand has outstripped the amount of money lawmakers made available for the program, which is offered in Marion, Lake, Allen, Jackson and Vanderburgh counties. As a result, only about 43 percent of those who applied were accepted.” [Associated Press, 11/30/15]

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