Hats off to Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, who announced an impressive plan to invest in strengthening the state’s education system, including not only the K-12 and higher education systems, but early education as well. The Governor recommends that $350 million be targeted over four years to expand and improve the state’s early education and care system. This investment would eliminate the state’s waiting list of nearly 30,000 children who need but cannot currently access child care assistance, expand the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) to help early educators and providers offer higher-quality experiences to children and families, increase educational programs and supports for parents and family members, and strengthen efforts to provide comprehensive support to children and families. In addition, new school finance funding would be used to incentivize school districts to offer prekindergarten for four-year-olds.

In order to raise the revenue necessary to support these fundamental education initiatives, Governor Patrick, in his state of the state address, proposed to increase the state income tax by one percent, to 6.25 percent. He also proposed to double personal exemptions and eliminate certain itemized deductions in an attempt to distribute the burden of the tax increase based on ability to pay.       

The governor argues that expanding the state’s investments in education will not only be an investment in the students’ futures, but in everyone’s future. As other governors continue to announce priorities for 2013 and beyond, Governor Patrick’s plan is an encouraging example of the comprehensive steps states can take. It would ensure that children have the early education that they need to succeed in school and in life, and that their parents have the support they need to work and provide for their families.

Governor Patrick is not alone in his eagerness to invest in child care and early education. Other governors have offered proposals on this issue in their state of the state addresses. For example, Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado proposed to serve up to 6,500 additional kindergartners and preschoolers. Governor Cuomo of New York proposed to expand the hours for the state-funded prekindergarten program from two-and-a-half hours to five hours and to increase access to the program, starting with school districts in the lowest-income communities.

As the governors continue to deliver their state of the state addresses, stay tuned for more updates on additional proposals regarding early care and education as well as updates on steps taken to implement these promising new plans of action.