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Quality early childhood care, education could pay serious dividends

The cost of providing quality early childhood care and education to Missouri’s pre-schoolers is estimated to cost $1.9 billion, according to a report released this week by the non-profit organization America’s Edge.

But, because so much of that funding would be spent locally, the impact of making such a public investment is estimated to generate $3.5 billion in total new spending for the state’s economy.

On Tuesday, a group of lawmakers and business leaders gathered in the Missouri Capitol Rotunda to promote the idea that government should expend more resources on Missouri’s smallest children, because it would pay serious dividends over the long haul.

Sen. Joseph Keaveny, D-St. Louis, has introduced a couple of bills that would allow Missouri’s school districts that operate pre-kindergarten programs to receive state funding through the foundation formula for students between the ages of 3 and 5. One of the bills would provide the funding for students who are eligible for free- and reduced-priced school lunches; that bill comes with a fiscal note of $71.3 million to $285 million. The other bill would make the funding available to all of Missouri’s pre-school aged children; that bill comes with a fiscal note of $142.6 billion to $570.4 billion.

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