State Sen. Mark Segebart
State Sen. Mark Segebart
April 24, 2014

State Sen. Mark Segebart of Vail was one of two Republican senators last week to vote for a bill to expand the voluntary-preschool program.

The bill, which now moves to the House, would provide an additional $1,200 per student in incentive money for every pupil a district adds to its preschool program over the next three years. The goal is to eliminate waiting lists, said Segebart.

"It's a big issue for kids anymore if they don't have preschool," he said. "They're at a disadvantage right off the bat."

The bill passed the Sentae 28-22. Sen. Rick Bertrand, R-Sioux City, joined Segebart in voting yes.

While opponents have suggested the cost of the additional incentives could exceed $120 million, Segebart said he believes the number is closer to $84 million - $17 million when the law goes into effect in 2016, $28 million in the second year, and $39 million in the third year - though he acknowledges that the cost is a concern.

His "longtime connection" with preschool efforts ultimately determined his vote, despite some "push-back" from his party, Segebart said, referencing his work on the initial implementation of preschool education during his time as a Crawford County supervisor. Nearly every school in his district has a preschool program, he added.

Rep. Dan Muhlbauer, D-Manilla, said he fully supports preschool education - citing the return on investment as $4 for every $1 spent - but said the issue is "not one of the big items" in the House this session.