(STATEHOUSE) - A bid to expand state financial aid for preschool gets a hearing in the Senate on Wednesday, with better prospects than it found a year ago.
Last year, the Senate sharply scaled back a House proposal for preschool vouchers for low-income students. But this year, Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) has joined Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) in endorsing the idea, and Governor Pence made it one of his priorities, calling it "an idea whose time has come."
Pence says Indiana is one of just nine states which don't offer any financial aid for preschool.
Avon Republican Pete Miller, who's sponsoring the bill in the Senate, says he had his doubts about the bill in the past, but says limiting it to low-income families steers the money where it's most needed. And he says starting small allows the state to scrap the program if it doesn't show results.
Legislators in both parties agree the real challenge will be to figure out how to fund the program.
he preschool grants wouldn't begin until 2015, allowing legislators to incorporate it into next year's budget talks, but fiscal leaders have said they want to avoid overcommitting resources down the road.
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