Governor Bullock is committed to investing in education, at all levels. He knows that we can maintain Montana’s competitiveness through smart targeted investments and that’s why he has made funding education one of the pillars of his budget.
Memo on the education budget:
Governor Bullock proposes targeted investments in workforce development and educational opportunities, from preschool to adult learning, to maintain Montana’s competitiveness nationally. Through these investments, we can prepare Montanans for success in a 21st Century economy and build a more talented and trained workforce to meet growing and changing workforce demands.
Governor Bullock proposes an investment of $30 million over the biennium in high-quality preschool with funding made available to public schools, Head Start programs, and community-based providers to create or expand services for preschool-aged Montana kids. Governor Bullock believes in building on the success of Montana’s STARS Preschool pilot program that passed with bipartisan support in the 2017 legislative session to increase access to more high-quality, affordable preschool options in rural and urban communities.
A report on the first year of the pilot program found that in both very rural communities and urban settings, 93% of preschoolers who participated were ready for kindergarten at the end of the year and 94% of teachers were given effective opportunities to grow professionally.
A poll by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle shows that over 64% of Montanans support this investment in Pre-K.
Governor Bullock also proposes to freeze college tuition across the Montana University System and invest in financial aid for students seeking two-or four-year degrees, including returning adult learners. Most jobs in Montana require training beyond a high school diploma, and Montana has set a goal of 60% of Montanans attaining a post-secondary degree or credential, yet for many Montanans, cost is a barrier to get the training they need to get a good job.
Governor Bullock believes in increasing affordable access to post-secondary education and training to ensure students are prepared for jobs in a 21st Century economy. He froze tuition in the 2013 and 2015 legislative sessions, helping to keep Montana with the 4th most affordable college tuition in the nation.
Governor Bullock also proposes to prepare the workforce of tomorrow by investing in professional development for computer science teachers. An increasing number of occupations requires workers to have at least some level of basic technology literacy and proficiency, and computer science occupations are high wage and in high demand across Montana. By increasing training opportunities for teachers, we can ensure that all students gain the skills they need to choose this career pathway.
Governor Bullock’s budget also includes an inflationary adjustment for K-12 funding and for special education funding, which is an investment critical to helping districts keep up with the costs of providing intervention and support services for some of our most vulnerable students.