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Senate Democrats will call for universal preschool in next year‘s legislative session.

House Republicans led a push for preschool funding in this year‘s session, but the new state budget includes less than a third of what the G-O-P initially proposed.

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) wants to go beyond both those plans and offer preschool statewide, through local school districts. He says studies show students who attend preschool not only do better in the early grades, but graduate at higher rates and land higher-paying jobs.

Democrats aren‘t proposing a way to pay for the program yet. Lanane says since legislators won‘t write a new budget till 2015, the goal is to lay the groundwork in next year‘s session by debating the issue, in hopes of marshaling support for it in the new budget.

Senate Education Chairman Dennis Kruse (KROOZ) (R-Auburn) says he‘s looking forward to seeing the impact of the current budget‘s investment in preschool.

The budget calls on the state to track the performance of students who receive the new grants. In a statement, Kruse says preschool is an “ongoing conversation” and says he welcomes Lanane‘s input.