State of the State Address
Snyder’s pledge to get more eligible children enrolled in the state-funded Great Start Readiness Program for at-risk 4-year-olds was an important message for early childhood advocates to hear, even though he qualified his remarks to lower expectations for the coming year. Referring to 29,000 eligible children who are currently not served because of funding shortfalls, he suggested not all will be accommodated at this time. For more details on actual suggested budget allocations, we will all need to stay tuned to his upcoming budget address in February.
• Watch the speech online 
• Read a full transcript of the address online 
Excerpts from the State of the State address:
BUDGET PRIORITIES AND EARLY CHILDHOOD: “The first one is in the Great Start early childhood area. We have 29,000 students that are eligible for a program to get them into preschool. I don’t believe we can accomplish all that. And I’m open to coming up with creative ideas to get here. But I think it’s important we make a major budget commitment to get as many kids in as possible and get us on a path to getting all those kids in Great Start and early childhood programs.”
Gov. Snyder opened his address by recounting his administration's achievements in 2012. Among those of keen interest to families of young children were these:
AUTISM LEGISLATION: “One other area that we made tremendous success in last year was with autism. That was something that was very moving to me. If you look at it, we have at least 15,000 young people that are qualified candidates to get assistance. And we have evidence-based treatments that can materially improve the quality of their life, to allow them to have a great family life, to be successful. It’s wonderful. And if you think about it there are no losers. It helps society in terms of being more successful.”
HEALTHY KIDS DENTAL COVERAGE: One other area we did that I’m really proud of is Healthy Kids Dental. It’s about giving kids in need better dental coverage. And it makes a huge difference. We now have over 440,000 people in Michigan in this program, young people, but we have a long way to go. But I’m proud to say in this current budget year we’re adding another 90 some thousand. And this is a program we should just continue until we get all kids in Michigan covered in some fashion because it materially affects their life. But thank you for adding those extra 90,000 kids; it will make a difference in their lives.
Jona Kean, Sandbox Party Coordinator
"I like that the governor mentioned a commitment to the Healthy Kids Dental program as well as supporting Great Start and preschool programs. What I really like is how he seems to pride himself on taking on long-term issues. I think a focus on early childhood in public policy is long overdue, so I am hopeful."
Jamina Tepley, Sandbox Party Coordinator
"I am so happy that Governor Snyder said he wants to make a big budget commitment to early childhood, mentioning Great Start by name, and referencing 29,000 Michigan children eligible for free preschool who are not currently being served. The governor expressing support for early childhood in this year's budget is exciting news, not just for those of us who care specifically about early childhood, but also for anyone who cares about education, jobs or quality of life in Michigan in the future."
Matt Gillard, Sandbox Party Policy Coordinator
"I applaud Governor Snyder joining House Speaker Jase Bolger and Senate Appropriations Chair Roger Kahn in recognizing the value of investing in quality early childhood programs. I am sure that investment in quality early childhood programs is an issue that can bridge the partisan divide in Lansing."
Joanne Mitchell, Sandbox Party Coordinator
"I was happy to hear the governor realizes there are still far too many children in Michigan that do not have the benefit of a preschool program. My hope is that he will follow through with a solid commitment to work to increase the funding for the Great Start Readiness Program."
Megan Koops-Fisher, Sandbox Party Coordinator
"Governor Snyder provided a clear outline for what he expects to accomplish for Michigan in the next twelve months. I am pleased that he noted the success of several initiatives that involve early childhood from last year, specifically naming programs such as the Great Start Readiness Program and Health Kids Dental. However, I hope he holds true to his call for bipartisan work by encouraging members of his own party not to dismiss an idea if it is put forward especially if it is an issue that both parties feel will continue to move the state forward - like early childhood."
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