Missouri Lawmaker Leads Effort to Boost Early Childhood Education Funding

Missouri has been struggling for years to find ways to boost funding for pre-kindergarten learning efforts. State Representative Brenda Shields is proposing to let counties ask voters to levy an annual real property tax to help fund local early childhood education programs and services. During a Missouri House committee hearing, Shields, a Republican from northwest Missouri’s St. Joseph, says the levy could not exceed 40 cents per 100 dollars of assessed property value.

“The population in our state that we really have lacked providing services to and helping families in our 0 to 3-year-old population, in which we know that 85% of the brain development happens,” says Shields. “I envision, but it’s not limited because it’s anything under the age of 5, but a lot of these funds will go to really support families and children from 0 to 3.”

The plan would also create seven-member county early childhood education boards to manage the tax funds. No one spoke in opposition to the bill.