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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana Legislature Rejects State Funding For Preschool

A teacher works with a pre-school student in a classroom.
Montana remains among only a few states in the country without publicly funded pre-K.

A Montana legislative committee rejected efforts to include funding for preschool in the state budget over the next two years. That, and another vote, effectively ended the state's preschool pilot program that lawmakers passed in 2017.

The four Republicans on the committee voted against the proposal Thursday while two Democrats supported it.

An $11 million proposal to continue the existing program also was shot down.

Democratic Rep. Ryan Lynch from Butte disapproved of ending the program.

“We’re actually taking a step backwards if we don’t continue to fund those programs that we’ve already established,” he said.

Republican Rep. Nancy Ballance said the pilot program was created to take advantage of federal funding that has now ended.

Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso noted Montana was one of just a few states that do not fund public preschool.

“There are a lot of families that are served by this program and I don’t want to let them down,” he said.

The proposal was a priority of Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.

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