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Early Edge voted down in House

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HELENA — A push to blast the budget for Governor Steve Bullock’s Early Edge program through the Montana House of Representatives failed this week.

Bullock wants universally affordable, high quality, early childhood education available to every Montana 4-year-old with his Early Edge program.

As part of Early Edge, block grants would be available to every Montana public school district to create or expand high-quality early childhood education programs in their community. School districts will have the option of creating a new program, or partnering with an existing early childhood education program to build on the existing strengths in their community. Participation in these programs will be voluntary, meaning that parents will be able to decide if it is the right option for their child, according to the website

The $37 million needed to fund Bullock’s Early Edge program was removed from the state budget on March 10 at the Montana legislature and an attempt to blast it through the house failed on March 19 on a party line vote.

Dan Salomon, R-HD 12, serves on the education committee and said the interim committee didn’t get to look at the plan during 2014.

Instead of sitting down and working with the interim committee, private preschools and daycare — “and (Early Edge) really cuts into private daycare,” Salomon said — the governor’s plan was run through the Montana Board of Public Education. 

Early Edge was never a bill, Salomon said; it was in the governor’s prospectus. The funding for the program was included in the main funding bill. 

However “nothing is ever dead until (the legislative session) is done,” Salomon said. Early Edge may still be alive until the final dickering is done on House Bill 2.  

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