JEFFERSON CITY - A leading House Republican is calling for statewide early education funding instead of grants.
Gov. Jay Nixon announced a $400,000 grant to the Jefferson City Day Care Center on Tuesday.
“Any money that he individually chooses to bestow upon someone may not be in the best interest of the entire state,” Mike Lair, R-Chillicothe said. “To pick and choose winners and losers in this case in education funding is in my opinion counter productive.”
The grant was awarded as part of the Missouri Smart Start program under the Department of Economic Development.
The department is making $10 million in tax credits and grants available to eligible early childhood education groups. According to the program’s website, the money must go towards start-up costs or capital improvements.
Lair, who is the chairman of the House Education Appropriations Committee, wants a comprehensive approach to fund early childhood education across the state.
Rep. Ira Anders, D-Independence, a former teacher, backed Nixon’s decision.
“When you get these grants or these opportunities to develop it in one school, we have to take advantage of that.” Anders said. “Hopefully what will happen is we’ll see the benefit of this from coming out of that and that will encourage people to realize boy we do need to do this in more than just isolated areas.”
Federal grants through the Neighborhood Assistance Program are also available to some early childhood education centers.
Nixon spoke Thursday in Richmond, Mo., about the Smart Start Intiative.