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Indiana House OKs early childhood education pilot program

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The Indiana House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a pilot program Thursday that would pay for low-income children to attend preschool.

Families earning less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level would get state aid to send their children to preschool. The program was first proposed by House Republicans last year and is loosely connected to Gov. Mike Pence's call for an early childhood education plan.

The pilot plan would pick five counties and offer vouchers to families to send children to public or private preschools. The measure carries a roughly $25 million price tag, and Senate budget leaders have expressed concern it could open the state to increased spending at a time of decreasing tax collections.

"This bill, although a pilot, has an opportunity to make a significant statement to the state as proof that we're ready to take the next step in doing what's right for the children," said House Education Chairman Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis. The measure mirrors a proposal pushed last year by Behning and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis.

The measure won bipartisan support Thursday, easily passing the House on an 87-9 vote.

"Let's not have what's wrong with the measure get in the way of what's right," said House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City. "The fact of the matter is that, from our side of the aisle, there's a little continuing concern about the doubling down on the voucher methodology."

Pence praised Thursday's vote, even though the House plan falls well of the roughly 40,000 children the governor hoped would qualify for the plan. As he has with most of his agenda, the governor has laid out broad ideas in public and later added his name to measures crafted by House or Senate leaders, as opposed to submitting his own items for approval.

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  • how to get help
    So how can people sign up to get help? And what counties are going to get help?

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  1. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.

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