Early childhood education and childcare programs are popular among Louisiana residents even if it means raising taxes to support them, according to a recent report by LSU researchers.
The report states that three-fourths of the 781 residents surveyed support more spending on childcare for infants and toddlers from low-income families, and 69% support more state spending on childcare from all families regardless of income.
More than 50% of the respondents said they would be willing to pay more taxes to expand these programs.
The findings were in the final report on a survey of state residents by the Public Policy Research Lab at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication.
On Monday, April 12, Gov. John Bel Edwards said early childhood education is a priority, but did not offer any amount he would allocate toward it. He made the comment in his State of the State Address as a new legislative session began.
Earlier this year, the Legislature approved gambling on fantasy sports in many parishes expecting tax revenue would go to the early childhood education fund.
The Louisiana Early Childhood Education Commission, which was created by the Legislature, is pushing the state to invest an additional $85.8 million in educating children from birth to age 3. That initial investment could create an economic benefit of up to $1.8 billion in the next 10 years.
Despite receiving federal dollars for education from COVID-19 relief bills, leaders said long-term solutions are needed not a quick fix.
Voters in many parishes also have approved gambling on real sports. Therefore, the early childhood education commission has suggested using the taxes on those winnings to expand early childhood education.
But legislative leadership, House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Senate President Page Cortez, have suggested that sports wagering revenue will not be allocated to the early childhood education fund despite the majority support for it in the state.
By Emily Wood
LSU Manship School News Service