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Budget Agreement Called Victory for PA Kids

The budget agreement adds $25 million for pre-Kindergarten programs and $4.77 million for Head Start. (Gov. Tom Wolf)
The budget agreement adds $25 million for pre-Kindergarten programs and $4.77 million for Head Start. (Gov. Tom Wolf)
July 5, 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The budget agreement passed by Pennsylvania's General Assembly gives a big boost to early childhood education.

The bipartisan spending plan adds $25 million for the state's Pre-K Counts program, and almost $5 million for Head Start.

Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children and a partner in the Pre-K for PA program, said that will open the door to critical learning programs for thousands more three- and four-year-olds across the Commonwealth.

"The Pre-K for PA Campaign is striving to ensure that every child at risk of school failure has access to high-quality, publicly-funded pre-K by 2021-22," Benso said, "and this increase is a really great step in that direction."

Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to sign the budget if the General Assembly is able to agree on a revenue package to pay for it in the next week.

Benso added that the budget also restores $20 million previously cut from child care, and funds a totally new program to help parents.

"That will create a grant program for evidence-based home visiting initiatives that reduce child abuse, improve health, improve early learning," she explained. "That appropriation is nearly $5 million."

Benso cited decades of studies showing that high-quality early education pays a lifetime of dividends, including higher high-school graduation rates and greater earning potential in adulthood.

"The estimates are that there's a return of about $4, at least, for every dollar invested," she noted. "And any public investment that returns more than the dollar you invested in it is a winner in our book."

The budget agreement also increases K-through-12 spending by $100 million, and special education by $25 million.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA