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Business Association Lobbies For Education Spending

By BJ Austin, KERA News

Dallas, TX – The Texas Association of Business is warning state lawmakers against shortchanging Pre-K programs. KERA's BJ Austin reports.

Texas Association of Business President Bill Hammond says lawmakers cannot afford to cut funding for full-day, Pre-Kindergarten programs. He says first grade is the second-most "repeated" grade.

Hammond: We are spending almost 250 million dollars a year re-educating our kids because they didn't come to kindergarten ready to go.

Hammond says there's an even bigger long-term consequence of cutting pre-K, which he says lays the foundation for academic success.

Hammond: Our big fear, in the long run, is that if we don't have a skilled workforce, jobs will leave the state. So that's what it's about for us.

Hammond is touring the state with the Pre-K message, and stopped at the Dallas Regional Chamber. He also wants the Legislature to fund pre-K educational materials. Hammond says teachers are working with 1999 guidelines and textbooks.

Hammond: Currently in the House there's no funding for materials. In the Senate, there's some funding, but no mention of the Pre-K materials.

Hammond says the House eliminates all money for the Texas Education Agency grants that allow full-day Pre-K. The Senate version cuts funding by about 75%. Hammond says the current versions of the state budget put the long-term prosperity of Texas at risk.

Email BJ Austin