- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is trying to make the case for one of the biggest increases in his new budget plan, nearly 40 percent more for early childhood education programs.

Wolf sat on the carpet with more than a dozen children visiting his office Tuesday from a Harrisburg-area learning center that’s accredited through Pennsylvania’s pre-kindergarten program. Wolf says such programs pay huge dividends for children later in school and life.

Wolf’s office says the extra $75 million he’s seeking would allow more than 8,400 3- and 4-year-olds to enroll in high-quality pre-kindergarten programs that are subsidized for lower-income families.

Qualifying programs must meet guidelines for curriculum, teacher training, nutrition and class size, among other things. About one-fifth of the estimated 300,000 3- and 4-year-olds in Pennsylvania are in a subsidized pre-kindergarten program.

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