While the President’s proposed federal budget is making news this week, governors across the country – Republicans and Democrats alike – are making early childhood education a priority as they draw up budgets and develop legislative initiatives for the coming year.

We’ve rounded up quotes on the importance of high-quality early education from recent speeches by a wide range of governors.While numerous governors used their state of the state addresses and budget announcements to highlight existing and future investments in early learning, the reality is that states cannot do it alone. Increasing federal investments in early childhood education must be a national priority.

 National Snapshot

According to the Education Commission of the States, for the 2014-15 fiscal year, state funding for pre-K increased by $672 million to a total of $6.3 billion. This was the third year in a row that both Republican and Democratic policymakers made significant investments in state-funded pre-K programs. Last year, 28 states and the District of Columbia increased their total investment in pre-K, with 10 states increasing by more than 20 percent; overall this is a 12 percent increase in state investments in pre-K programs over fiscal year 2013-14. Only six states provided no state funding for pre-K (Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming), which could change this year.

(Source: http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/01/16/97/11697.pdf )

Alabama – Gov. Robert Bentley (R)

We will work to give young children a ‘new, strong foundation’ with the opportunity for a good education in a voluntary Pre-K program. At the end of the next four years we will be able to tell every parent in Alabama, there is a Pre-K classroom available for your child.”

– Inaugural Address, Jan. 19, 2015

Connecticut – Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (D)

We’ve built better schools, raised test scores, made college more affordable, and put Connecticut on a path toward universal pre-kindergarten.”

– State of the State Address, Jan. 7, 2015

Delaware – Gov. Jack Markell (D)

Ninety percent of children’s brain development occurs before they even enter kindergarten. So thanks to your support, we have enrolled more than 3,000 additional high-needs children in the best early childhood centers in the past two years. And we’ve given grants to 89 top early learning programs to offer the highest quality infant care to more of our neediest kids. We know that care is expensive and hard-to-find, yet key to our children’s success.”

– State of the State Address, Jan. 22, 2015

Georgia – Gov. Nathan Deal (R)

 I am establishing an Education Reform Commission to study a number of questions regarding our education system, such as increasing access to Georgia’s world class early learning programs.

– State of the State Address, Jan. 14, 2015

Illinois – Gov. Bruce Rauner (R)

Our budget will increase funding for early childhood education so that more at risk children can enter kindergarten ready to succeed. From cradle to career, our children’s education needs to be our top priority.”

– State of the State Address, Feb. 4, 2015

Indiana – Gov. Mike Pence (R)

We’ve increased support for schools, approved the first-ever state funding for quality pre-K … Graduation rates are up. Test scores are up, the doors of our pre-K program are already open to disadvantaged kids … building on the historic first step we took last session, we will invest $10 million a year to fund scholarships for our new pre-K pilot, because every Hoosier child deserves to start school ready to learn.”

– State of the State Address, Jan. 13, 2015

Kentucky – Gov. Steve Beshear (D)

We increased enrollment in preschool programs. And we developed a screener to gauge whether early education programs were preparing our kids to hit the ground running on day one of kindergarten … In this session, we need to continue our momentum by adding accountability and transparency to all of our early child care facilities.”

– State of the Commonwealth Address, Jan. 7, 2015

Michigan – Gov. Rick Snyder (R)

We should be absolutely proud, we have been a leader in the nation with early childhood and preschool education. The last two years we made major budget commitments; $65 million a year for a total of $130 million in an on-going basis. We created over 29,000 new opportunities for people in need, young people in need to get pre-schooled.

– State of the State Address, Jan. 20, 2015

Minnesota – Gov. Mark Dayton (D)

I have also proposed a major new early childhood education initiative to fund pre-kindergarten classes for all of our state’s four year-olds. Taken on its own, this proposal has the power to transform the trajectory of Minnesota’s youngest learners. But my proposal doesn’t stop there. I am also proposing significant increases in childcare assistance, elimination of the Head Start waiting list, funding for home visiting, more resources to continue building the quality of childcare through Parent Aware, and expanded tax credits to parents for the costs of their child. In the education budget area alone, I am proposing $372 million in additional funding to care for and educate our state’s children between the ages of 0 to 4 years-old.

– State of the State Address, April 9, 2015

Mississippi – Gov. Phil Bryant (R)

Funding early childhood learning programs began in our first Legislative session together, and this year I will support doubling the funding for the Pre-K Collaborative Program with a total appropriation of $6 million.”

– State of the State Address, Jan. 21, 2015

Missouri – Gov. Jay Nixon (D)

 My budget will invest an additional $11 million in preschool, so that more children, regardless of their circumstances, start kindergarten … ready to learn.

– State of the State Address, Jan. 21, 2015

Montana – Gov. Steve Bullock (D)

How can it be that a child is already set to become a success or a statistic by the time he or she is five years old? … We know that children in high-quality early childhood programs are more likely to read at grade level and more likely to earn a high school diploma. They are less likely to repeat a grade or require specialized education; less likely to become teenage parents, require public assistance, abuse drugs or end up in jail. The results are in, researchers and scientists across the country agree. This works. Not only that, but for every dollar spent on early childhood, communities get at least a $7 return on investment. That’s why some of the biggest backers of preschool programs are business leaders who see the significant economic benefit. While an investment in our earliest learners makes solid economic sense, this isn’t about the $7 return. This is about children and this is about families.”

– State of the State Address, Jan. 28, 2015

Nevada – Gov. Brian Sandoval (R)

I submit to you this evening that an education system for this century requires bold new ideas to meet the reality of our time … This work begins with our youngest learners. Nevada has the lowest preschool attendance of any state in the nation. Thanks to a recent federal grant, and matching funds provided in my budget, we will improve this worst-in-the-country statistic.”

– State of the State Address, Jan. 15, 2015

New Hampshire – Gov. Maggie Hassan (D)

We must also ensure that when Granite Staters find a good job, they’ll also be able to find dependable child care, housing that’s both convenient and affordable, and access to full-day kindergarten.

– Inaugural Address, Jan. 8, 2015

New Mexico – Gov. Susana Martinez (R)

On my watch, we’ve more than doubled pre-K funding, and I’m proposing more this year.”

– State of the State Address, Jan. 20, 2015

New York – Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D)

We’ll invest another $365 million this year in pre-K for four year olds but we also want to take the next step and start designing programs – not for four year olds – but for three year olds. All of the studies say that the earlier you get them in, the better. Let New York be ahead of the curve by enrolling three year olds who are now making some of the largest cognitive and behavioral gains. We are going to start this with a $25 million offering for pre-K for three year olds.”

– State of the State Address, Jan. 21, 2015

North Dakota – Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R)

We have an opportunity during this legislative session to build on our accomplishments by maintaining strong funding for K-12 schools, by investing in early childhood education…”

– State of the State Address, Jan. 6, 2015

Oregon – Gov. Kate Brown (D)

Through my work early on as a family advocate and legislator, I know there is much more we can do as a state to make sure every Oregon child is ready to learn when she or he starts kindergarten, and reading proficiently by third grade. That is why I have prioritized investment in early learning and literacy programs for Oregon’s youngest learners – to close opportunity gaps for students before they develop.”

– State of the State Address, April 17, 2015

Pennsylvania – Gov. Tom Wolf (D)

[Our budget] recognizes that our responsibility to provide a great education does not begin at kindergarten and end with high school. That’s why my budget also expands access to early childhood education by increasing the number of children in Pre-K by 75 percent.”

– Budget Address, March 3, 2015

Rhode Island – Gov. Gina Raimondo (D)

This budget also commits the necessary matching funds that allow us to more than triple the number of state sponsored pre-k classrooms in Rhode Island. It’s never too early to put our youngest learners on a path to opportunity.”

– Budget Address, March 12, 2015

Texas – Gov. Greg Abbott (R)

To improve our schools we must begin by building a strong foundation at the very beginning. Our goal should be to ensure all Texas students are performing at grade level in reading and math by the time they finish the 3rd grade … To begin the process of building a better education system in Texas, we must improve early education. This is why I’m declaring early education as my first emergency item as governor. Our children and their future have no time for delay.”

– State of the State Address, Feb. 17, 2015

Vermont – Gov. Peter Shumlin (D)

We have had many successes. I am proud that my Administration secured two highly competitive early childhood grants, attracting $70 million dollars in federal funds to help give our youngest Vermonters a strong start. ”

– Budget Address, Jan. 15, 2015

Virginia – Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D)

If we are going to lead in a global economy, we cannot wait until our students reach kindergarten to begin preparing them for success … I was proud to work with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to help Virginia win a $17.5 million grant last month to expand our pre-school program so that another 1,600 at-risk four-year-olds can learn in a Pre-K classroom in their community … I have introduced budget language that will allow communities that have exceeded their pre-K budgets to receive leftover funds not used in other divisions, so that they can offer more children the great start to their education they deserve … I am also proposing legislation to keep our children safe by increasing the number of day care facilities across Virginia that are licensed and properly inspected by state and local governments.”

– State of the Commonwealth Address – Jan. 14, 2015

Washington – Gov. Jay Inslee (D)

Our most fundamental commitment needs to be to the very youngest Washingtonians. We know the greatest untapped asset in the state is the potential of a 3- and 4-year-old. The latest neuroscience research at the University of Washington shows that at this age, children’s minds have a tremendous capacity for learning. Early learning is the best investment we can make in our future … That’s why my proposal makes a $2.3 billion investment in our children’s future, including the largest-ever state investment in early learning. This means 6,000 more low-income children could attend high-quality preschools.”

– State of the State Address, Jan. 13, 2015