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Holcomb Says He'll Seek Statewide Pre-K in 2021

Governor's 2019 agenda doesn't expand preschool, but does include hate crime bill, career education course in high schools

(ZIONSVILLE, Ind.) - Two of the biggest items in Governor Holcomb's agenda for 2019 won't come before the legislature.

Holcomb says he'll seek to expand Indiana's state-funded preschool program to the entire state -- but in the budget session after this one, in 2021. He says he won't seek any extra money for pre-K in the upcoming state budget. "On My Way Pre-K" serves 3,000 students in 20 pilot counties, and Holcomb says he'll use child care grant money to pay for 500 more students in those counties.

And Holcomb says he's working with the federal government to expand the Healthy Indiana Plan to cover people who land a job but can't sign up for health insurance immediately.

Holcomb announced his agenda in Zionsville, but several items are proposal he'd already signaled he'd pursue. The governor will ask legislators to pass a hate crimes law. Indiana is one of five states without one -- a bill passed the Senate in 2016 but has stalled there the last two years. Holcomb also wants a half-dozen school safety measures recommended by an administration task force after a school shooting in Noblesville in May. He wants to require schools to form a referral partnership with local mental health providers, increase the state's Secured School Safety Grant Fund by five-million dollars, and allow schools to spend that money to hire police officers, not just school resource officers.

Holcomb's also adding his endorsement to House Republicans' call to increase teacher pay, though the details of how to do that still haven't been worked out. Holcomb says those raises may not begin immediately, and won't be complete until 2021. And the governor is reaffirming his call for a new required verbal screening of pregnant women to spot and treat women with drug addictions before they give birth.

Holcomb's also calling for a smattering of business tax credits, and will ask legislators to require a one-semester career-education course in high school.

Gov. Eric Holcomb (right) with Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

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