Proposed Preschool Program Could Tax Smokers

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

HARRISONBURG, Va.--- President Barack Obama's administration wants to invest in preschool education, but smokers may have to pay for part of the bill.

President Obama unveiled his budget on Tuesday. It includes $1.3 billion to fund preschool education as part of his 2015 budget. He seeks for funding for a preschool program. "Preschool For All" would be a voluntary federal-state partnership that would allow all 4-year-olds in need to go to preschool. The federal government would pay $75 billion over 10 years. The rest of the money would come from a raise in federal tobacco taxes.

Smoker Sam Gooch would not mind paying extra if it would go toward a good cause.

"I see the way the education program is now and I think anyway that we could fund that and get kids in school earlier and provide the right programs for them to learn, I would be more than happy to pay a little extra to support that," said Gooch.

He usually pays $40 a week for his cigarettes.

"It is a habit that tends to be a little bit pricey. In order to support that habit, you have to be willing to pay the price," Gooch said.

Currently, in Harrisonburg 250 preschoolers are in school. However, there is not enough space nor money to accept more others are waiting.

Liane Sours' daughter waited for two years to participate in the program.

"It was frustrating. I think the preschool program should be open to everybody. I don't think you should have to wait for an education," said Sours.

Her wait ended, but she would like to see other 4-year-olds start a preschool program as soon as possible without waiting.

"She has such a diverse group right now and she is learning from so many different countries that she would've not been able sitting at home just with me," Sours said.

Harrisonburg City Public Schools' Superintendent Dr. Scott Kizner supports the federal program. However, he has some concerns about the space available to house the children. He said if the program is housed in other places instead of the schools.


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