Ray McCarty, President/CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri, spoke today at a press conference on behalf of ‘Yes on 3!,’ an amendment that would raise tobacco tax in order to fund Missouri pre-schools. Amendment 3 is supported by AIM.
According to information taken from the National Institute for Early Education Research’s 2015 State of Pre-School Report, Missouri is far behind neighboring states in amount of kids enrolled in programs. Missouri was only at 4% enrolled in 2015, while states like Oklahoma were at 75% and Iowa at 61%.
The taxes collected from Amendment 3 would be used to increase the rate of children attending pre-school. Increasing the tobacco tax could total up to $300 million in revenue a year, and would not take away from other important issues being funded by the state’s general budget. The goal is to kick start programs now in hopes that once tobacco use begins to decline, legislators will see the importance of funding pre-education in Missouri and make it a priority.
“Our employers need a better educated workforce and we know education starts earlier than we currently support in Missouri,” said McCarty. “We need to give Missouri children the best chance we can to succeed in the jobs of tomorrow, and Amendment 3 will help us toward that goal.”
A child’s brain does a significant amount of developing before age six, and better funding for pre-school is an investment in both the children and the future of Missouri.