PROPOSAL TO REQUIRE PRESCHOOL AT AGE 3 IN NEBRASKA DRAWS SHARP CRITICISM

Senator Rick Kolowski’s plan (LR270A) would make the minimum age for preschoolers 3 years old rather than 5 years old. Proponents of the plan said that it would expand early childhood education to nearly 42,000 children across Nebraska. However there was some sharp backlash to the resolution during its hearing in the Education Committee earlier this week. Opponents said the increase in students would place a heavy burden on taxpayers, particularly in districts that don’t receive state aid, while also driving private day cares and education centers out of business. If the bill advances from the education committee it would need support from 30 senators to be put on the general election ballot. Some committee members said the cost of the program would be too much for the state to absorb, particularly as it seeks to cut $173 million from its budget in the middle of the biennium. Adding another 42,000 children to the 10,000 students already enrolled in preschool programs across the state could cost an estimated $420 million, Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn said.