Leadership Matters: Governors’ 2011 State Pre-K Budgets Run the Gamut

Topic: Preschool, State-funded programs

If all of the governors’ FY 2011 budgets were to pass as proposed, total state pre-K funding would remain roughly the same as FY 2010 – about $5.3 billion, says Pre-K Now’s just-released Leadership Matters report. Beyond the national total, however, lie big variations, ranging from expansion plans in Alabama to elimination of state pre-K in Arizona. Among the highlights are these:

Nine governors would increase pre-K investments. These proposals would increase funding for early learning in these states by a total of $78.5 million.
Three states and the District of Columbia anticipate an increase for pre-K through their school funding formulas.
Ten governors are proposing to flat fund pre-K. These proposals maintain funding for early learning at FY10 levels and include Alaska and Rhode Island, which both started new programs in FY10.
Twelve governors are proposing to decrease pre-K funding. In these states, early learning investments would decline by a total of $100.6 million.
Ten states continue to provide no state-funded pre-K.

This year’s report is a handy resource because it’s online and interactive, with a search feature that provide metrics on pre-K funding for a given state, including the five-year trend, a snapshot of the governors’ stances on pre-K, and even a glance at pre-K in neighboring states.

Of course, governors don’t always get what they want, so this picture is likely to change, not least because of the tough choices state leaders must make in the current recessionary environment. That’s one reason Pre-K Now project director Marci Young is calling on Congress to include incentives in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind Act reauthorization) that strengthen state investments in pre-K.


  1. being a florida vpk teacher, i’m not sure what you are saying abount fl, are we stay the same, decrease, or increase in the funding.

    • There was approximately a 1% decrease in funding for Florida VPK for fiscal year 2011. Initially the governor had proposed an increase in funding as reported in Leadership Matters, but the legislature voted on a 1% reduction to the program.

  2. Here is a bit that we are seeing in one of our Early Reading First projects: schools that have opted to eliminate or downsize their full-day preK classrooms because the state only provides enough funding for half-day. The tactic has been to put 30 children in one preK classroom (with one teacher and 2 teacher assistants) and use the other classroom to add an extra kindergarten because they can get more funding for K kids than for the same number of preK kids.