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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer campaigned hard on the promise of offering preschool to every Michigan 4-year-old. Now she says it could still happen — just not this year.

Whitmer’s first budget proposal does take a step in that direction, opening Michigan’s highly regarded free pre-kindergarten program to thousands of additional families while also boosting the state budget for child care.

That was welcome news to advocates of early childhood education, who know that Whitmer is trying to simultaneously increase access to child care, address major problems in infrastructure and K-12 education, and fend off what is sure to be a strong political challenge from the Republican-controlled Legislature.

“We have limited dollars to do everything we need to in our state, but she (Whitmer)  is committed to education and to kids, and she understands the importance of early investment,” said Gilda Jacobs, president of the Michigan League for Public Policy, and a former Democratic state senator.

Mayor Mike Duggan has repeatedly floated the possibility of a Detroit-specific universal pre-K program. But under Whitmer’s budget, the windfall of federal funding that he’d been eyeing would be allocated to child care statewide, raising questions about where Duggan would find the money to pay for plan.

If approved by the state Legislature — a big “if” — Whitmer’s budget would nonetheless make it easier for the youngest Detroiters to get the well-documented benefits of early education. Under the proposal, a family of four making roughly $77,000 a year would be eligible for the Great Start Readiness Program, the state’s high-quality program for 4-year-olds. At least 85 percent of families in Detroit fall below that threshold, according to census data from 2017. March 6, 2019 – Chalkbeat

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