House and Senate lawmakers have agreed to provide $10 million for Preschool Open Doors, which is expected to help 1,500 at-risk kids access an early education program for low-income families.
It was the most significant of many budget decisions that House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke and Senate Ways and Means Chair Jill Tokuda announced Tuesday in a packed conference room at the Capitol.
They are co-chairing a conference committee of 26 lawmakers that is working to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the $13 billion overall state budget for fiscal 2017, which starts July 1.
Luke said the two chambers have already found significant areas of agreement, and many of those decisions will be announced later this week. The next conference committee meeting on the state budget bill, House Bill 1700, is set for 2 p.m. Thursday.
Gov. David Ige’s proposed budget had sought $6 million for Preschool Open Doors, which is the same amount the latest Senate budget draft had included. That would serve an estimated 900 kids.
Tokuda described the program after the meeting as a “great equalizer.”