(KATV) Arkansas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross want give all Arkansas 4 year-olds the chance to have accessible pre-kindergarten education. The plan will cost an additional $37 million dollars a year once implemented.
Ross would gradually increase funding to make pre-k available by 2025. The proposal didn't offer a timeline and would be based on available funds and increased revenue.
"This investment will also help save the state money in other areas. Study after study shows that for every dollar you invest in pre-kindergarten, you see a 10 dollar return on investment. Economists find that investing in high quality pre-k yields significant returns for states, helping to reduce the number of people living in poverty or relying on government assistance," Ross said in a press conference Wednesday.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson released this statement in response to Ross' plan:
"I support efforts to increase funding for our existing Pre-K program but the Ross-Burkhalter plan to expand Pre-K to families making up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level is a classic example of over promising in an election year and it is irresponsible. Politicians in Washington, D.C. make promises to spend money without explaining how they'll pay for it. That is how Washington creates a deficit but it is not how Arkansas should manage its budget."
Republican gubernatorial candidate Curtis Coleman released this statement:
"In 1998, our neighbors in Oklahoma began providing 'free' preschool for all of the state's four-year-olds. Oklahoma taxpayers pay mightily for the program, topping $146 million annually or about $7,400 per child. In the six years immediately preceding state-funded preschool, Oklahoma reading scores were higher than the national average. Today, Oklahoma children score 4 points below the national average. That's a zero return on a 15-year investment."
Democratic candidate Lynette Bryant declined to comment.