The Indianapolis community continues to make small steps in supporting Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s pre-k initiative, but the program has yet to reach full funding.
The City-County Council approved $1.7 million in funding for pre-k during their meeting Monday night. The money is part of the city’s $1 billion budget for 2015.
Pre-k funds will come out of the local homestead tax credit, which was overfunded by $2 million. Ballard had wanted to eliminate that credit outright to add $5 million a year toward his $50 million pre-K plan. Council Democrats voted that idea down.
As John Tuohy of the Indianapolis Star reports, the future of Ballard’s program relies on other donations as well:
Ballard had sought $5 million a year, which would have triggered a $2 million gift from the Lilly Foundation and a commitment to find $8 million more in private donations.
With just a third of the money potentially in the pipeline, a foundation official declined to say whether Lilly would still make a grant if the $5 million isn’t reached.
“We haven’t even gone that far in our discussions yet,” said Michael O’Connor, director of state government affairs. “This (the $1.7 million) is a positive indicator, but there are a lot of moving parts still.”
Earlier this month, the Lilly Endowment pledged $22.5 million to support two early childhood education initiatives – Early Learning Indiana and the United Way of Central Indiana. Both of those organizations plan to use the money to strengthen current preschool programs as well as build new ones.
Although policymakers generally accept the goal of Ballard’s initiative, not everyone agrees on how the program should be funded.
Ballard’s initiative is similar to, but separate from the state’s new pre-k pilot program. Marion County was one of the five counties selected to participate in that program, which is also scheduled to launch in early 2015.