The Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce is on board with Gov. Butch Otter’s education agenda — with one noteworthy addition.
The chamber wants the state to take a closer look at pre-K — a topic Otter didn’t mention in his State of the State address Monday.
“The chamber supports pre-kindergarten legislation and will review early learning proposals in the 2017 Legislature,” according to a chamber news release Tuesday. “More Idaho children need to be ready to learn when they enter kindergarten under a program that features parental choice, local control and collaborative funding.”
Idaho remains one of only a handful of states that do not fund pre-K — and as Education Week reported last week, Idaho has the lowest percentage of eligible 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool.
Even voluntary and pilot programs have found little traction in the Statehouse, despite support from business, nonprofit and education groups. While a few Republican lawmakers have supported pre-K bills, legislative Democrats have led the push on the issue. And on Monday, House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding of Boise criticized Otter for “failing to address early childhood education in any meaningful way.”
The chamber of commerce announced its 2017 legislative priorities Tuesday. The list includes “continued implementation of education improvements” and a continued push to reduce Idaho’s corporate income tax.