President Obama's 2014 budget proposal calls for a historic investment in early learning that marks the boldest expansion of educational opportunities in a generation. This shows the president is being both smart and serious about removing barriers to school readiness for low-income families and putting the country's earliest learners first.
Wisely recognizing that high-quality early learning begins at birth, President Obama's proposal calls for investing:
• $75 billion over 10 years in a Preschool for All initiative funded through a new tobacco tax, plus;
• $750 million in FY 2014 to help states strengthen their early learning systems and prepare to expand access to high-quality preschool;
• $15 billion over 10 years for voluntary home visiting programs that offer parents education and support;
• $1.4 billion in FY 2014 in new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships to support states in expanding high-quality learning opportunities for our youngest children.
These investments in early learning would be financed by a 94-cent increase in the tobacco tax. This takes a page from California's success in using tobacco taxes to improve health, expand early learning for infants, toddlers and preschoolers and reduce smoking. In 1998, California passed Proposition 10, becoming one of the nation's first states to raise taxes on cigarettes to fund early education programs with a 50-cent tax on tobacco products.
As a bellwether for innovation and home to one out of every eight children in America, California will play a vital role in fulfilling the president's vision for early learning. That's why Californians for President Obama's Early Learning Plan -- a diverse coalition of school superintendents, elected officials, business leaders, health and child advocates -- is rallying behind the president's proposal to build support in Congress to ensure California students receive the high quality start to learning they deserve.
President Obama stood up for our youngest learners, and we must stand up for them and stand with the president. We must make sure that California is positioned to leverage new federal funds and support, especially the $750 million in Preschool Development Grants, which will be awarded to those states most willing to commit to expanding high-quality preschool to serve all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. Join us in mobilizing to ensure California will answer the president's call: early learning for all.