House Speaker Brian Bosma acknowledged Thursday that lawmakers might not approve even a pilot pre-kindergarten program this session and may instead study the issue for another year.
Bosma said he's disappointed the Senate stripped a five-county pilot program out of a House Bill 1004. The Senate is set to consider the amended legislation, which would require an expansive study of pre-kindergarten programs, their costs and their effectiveness.
But the Republican leader said a major study of preschool is "actually a victory" and probably necessary to get support from GOP leaders in the Senate who have been more skeptical about whether state-funded programs are helpful to kids.
"It's been difficult to get people at the table to hear and receive information and opinions in this regard," Bosma said.
House Republicans and Gov. Mike Pence made state-funded pre-kindergarten a key part of their legislative agendas. But Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, had warned early on that the program should be considered next year, when lawmakers will write the next two-year budget.
"I am firm on that," Kenley said. "I don't think it's beneficial to spend more money in a year that's not a budget year."
Bosma said he hasn't given up on the pilot program completely and it will likely be part of end of negotiations before the session ends in mid-March.
Lesley Weidenbener is executive editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.