Visiting Philly school, Wolf says he’ll seek $60 million more for early childhood education

 Four- and 5-year-olds in Erin Dowling's preschool class at the West Philadelphia Community Center play a game with Gov. Tom Wolf and Mayor Jim Kenney. (Katie Colaneri/WHYY)

Four- and 5-year-olds in Erin Dowling's preschool class at the West Philadelphia Community Center play a game with Gov. Tom Wolf and Mayor Jim Kenney. (Katie Colaneri/WHYY)

With this year’s budget still sitting on the table in Harrisburg, Gov. Tom Wolf says next year, he wants to increase spending on early childhood education by $60 million.

That’s on top of the $60 million he asked for in the current year’s budget. The partial deal he signed in December provides $30 million for early childhood education.

Wolf said his new proposal would cover the costs of enrolling about 14,000 more Pennsylvania children in pre-K. 

But what about the fact this year’s budget still isn’t completed? The governor is assuming the state will have a budget in place by June — just in time for next year’s deadline.

“I understand you cannot just throw money at education or any problem and hope to come to a good result,” he said. “But you can’t keep taking money away from something this important and expect to get to a good place.”

The governor was in good company. He made the announcement Thursday at a preschool housed in the West Philadelphia Community Center in Mantua.

Standing beside him was Mayor Jim Kenney, who has a pre-K plan of his own that will cost Philadelphia an estimated $60 million per year.

Like Wolf, Kenney wants to focus on the positive. He thanked the governor for his enthusiam “and the can-do attitude, because we’re going to get people who are gonna say, how you gonna do this? And how you gonna pay for this and where’s it gonna come from?”

Those questions will all be answered, Kenney said, and regardless of what happens in Harrisburg, the city is moving forward with its plans, which are not contingent upon receiving money from the state.

Wolf will say more about his 2017 priorities during his budget address on Tuesday.

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