Alabama Secretary of Early Childhood Education Visits Montana
to Tout Benefits of Publicly Funded Preschool
“We know this is a strong investment in our state’s future,” said Governor Bullock. “Now is the time Montana finally makes investments into the success of our kids through publicly funded early childhood education.”
The “Rally for Montana’s Future Superheroes” featured Governor Bullock’s proposal for $12 million in grants to allow school districts, Head Start programs, and high-quality preschool providers to offer preschool for four-year-old kids at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Representative Kathy Kelker who is sponsoring the legislation, House Bill 563, also spoke at the rally.
“Preschool prepares our students for success in school and in life,” said Rep. Kelker. “Despite the overwhelming evidence to support investments in early childhood education, Montana has lagged behind most other states in providing high quality preschool.”
Jeana Ross, Secretary for the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, spent the day at the Montana State Capitol on behalf of Republican Governor Robert Bentley to meet with lawmakers in support of Governor Bullock’s preschool grant program proposal.
“This is not a partisan issue elsewhere in the country. Other states – some of the reddest of red states like Alabama – have recognized the value of high-quality early childhood education,” Governor Bullock said of the visit. “Their states are better off for investing in their kids. Thank you to Secretary Ross for showing us how it’s done.”
Alabama has had state-funded preschool for four-year-olds since 2000, known as First Class. Similar to Governor Bullock’s proposal, a variety of providers are eligible to apply for competitive First Class grants. Alabama’s First Class program is considered to be very high-quality.
Montana is currently one of only six states without a publicly funded pre-kindergarten option for four-year-olds.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION RATE REDUCTIONS ALLOW JOB CREATORS TO INVEST IN THEIR BUSINESS, EMPLOYEES, AND MONTANA’S ECONOMY
Governor Steve Bullock announced yesterday that the Montana State Fund Board of Directors recently reduced workers’ compensation rates by 5%.
“Montana’s strong fiscal management and efforts by employers to keep workers safe results in more hard-earned dollars to invest in business, employees, and Montana’s economy,” said Governor Bullock. “As we continue to build on the economic strength of Montana businesses, this is another step forward to help businesses grow and create more good-paying jobs.”
As a result of positive loss experiences, the Montana State Fund Board of Directors made the decision on Friday to reduce the rate for 2018. There has not been a rate increase since 2006. Since 2007, rates have gone down or remained flat every year.
“We are extremely excited to announce this rate reduction,” said Lance Zanto, Board Chair of Montana State Fund. “The employers of Montana are to be commended for their positive approach to controlling their costs. Their hard work is paying off.”
In the face of rising medical costs and the current medical inflation rate of 4%, Montana employers are improving their efforts to provide a safe workplace. When injuries do occur, employers are helping the employee to return to work sooner. As employers continue to implement efficient safety programs that protect their employees from injury, the Board anticipates rates will continue to decline.
On March 3, Governor Steve Bullock and First Lady Lisa Bullock highlighted a scorecard ranking Montana among the top ten states for school breakfast participation. Through their Breakfast after the Bell initiative, Governor and First Lady Bullock provide privately funded grants to schools across Montana to increase school breakfast participation.
“We know that when kids have a healthy meal to start their day, they perform better in school,” said Governor Bullock. “More students in Montana now have access to the meals they need to grow and learn – and as a result, we’ve seen improved student behavior, fewer disciplinary referrals, and better test scores.”
Highlights from the report include:
- Montana ranks in the top ten for percentage growth in free and reduced-price breakfast participation from school year 2014-2015 to school year 2015-2016.
- Montana ranks in the top ten for Community Eligibility Provision growth, which gives high-poverty schools and school districts significant federal savings for offering breakfast and lunch free of charge to students.
First Lady Bullock today visited Rossiter Elementary School’s new breakfast program that serves around 160 students per day with a “Grab N’ Go” model. This newly launched program gives students the opportunity to select breakfast items to eat in the classroom at the start of the school day.
“Schools in Montana are committed to their students’ success and recognize that serving breakfast gives kids the energy they need to focus in the classroom,” said First Lady Bullock. “We are taking steps in the right direction to increase breakfast participation, and ultimately, put an end to childhood hunger in Montana.”
In fall of 2014, Governor and First Lady Bullock launched the Breakfast after the Bell initiative to encourage schools to implement new breakfast programs or convert existing programs to alternative breakfast models that are proven to increase student participation.
Through the Breakfast after the Bell initiative:
- Governor and First Lady Bullock, in partnership with Montana No Kid Hungry, have awarded $235,000 to Montana schools through private partnerships.
- There are now 139 schools across Montana that have made breakfast part of the school day.
- There are now more than 1,014,133 more breakfast meals served to Montana students each year.
- The number of breakfast meals served increased by 7% in the 2014-2015 school year and by 11.4% in the 2015-2016 school year.
Representative Jessica Karjala (D-Billings) is rocking the modern fashion look for the safety conscious legislator. She is wearing a baby blue grey bullet proof vest on the floor of the Montana State House. This is what all legislator will be wearing after passage of HB 280 sponsored by Randy Brodehl (R-Kalispell). The bill passed it second reading on 14 February 2017 by 53-47. It is schedule for it’s third reading on Wednesday Feb 15th.
Details about the bill are at laws.leg.mt.gov.
Here is how they voted.
Here is how to contact your legislator.
Republicans in the Montana State Legislature’s House Judiciary Committee today killed a bill to protect public access to public lands by increasing fines for gating public roads and other public rights of way.
Rep. Tom Jacobson, D-Great Falls, introduced HB 295 after New Jersey multimillionaire and failed candidate for governor Greg Gianforte sued the people of Montana to eliminate an easement that provides public access to the East Gallatin River.
“Today Montana Republicans again put the interests of New Jersey millionaires like Greg Gianforte who block public access over the voices of Montana sportsmen and women,” said Nancy Keenan, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party. “It’s clear that the Montana GOP is actively working to chip away Montanans’ constitutional right to access Montana’s public lands, rivers and streams.”
Montana Republicans on the House Judiciary committee killed the public access legislation in a 9-10 vote. Did Greg Gianforte discuss this anti-public access bill with GOP legislators before they voted it down?
Jacobson’s bill would have increased fines for landowners who block public access by fencing off county roads and other public rights of way.
Gianforte created a firestorm when records revealed he filed a lawsuit to “eliminate” a publicly owned easement near his property that provided access the East Gallatin River. Documents from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks showed that Gianforte “fenced off” and “actively excluded” the public from accessing the public easement to the river.
Gianforte recently announced he will be seeking the U.S. House seat if Congressman Ryan Zinke is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of the Interior.