By Derrick DePledge
State Rep. Bertrand Kobayashi on Tuesday tried to pin Gov. Neil Abercrombie down on whether the governor would seek new sources of revenue for his early childhood education initiative when it could potentially expand after fiscal year 2016.
The governor's plan, cautiously advanced by the House Finance Committee on Tuesday, would establish a school readiness program in the 2014-2015 school year for 3,500 4-year-olds no longer eligible for junior kindergarten, which is ending. If voters approve a constitutional amendment in 2014 allowing public money to be used for private preschool, an early childhood education program would be created that could eventually expand to cover all 18,000 4-year-olds statewide.
Abercrombie has said that it would be up to the Legislature whether to expand state-funded preschool. But Kobayashi pressed the governor on whether or not he would propose new revenue sources to cover the higher cost.
“Well if I could be assured that I’d be here in 2016, I suppose I’d be happy to do that," Abercrombie, who is up for re-election next year, said finally. "Is that sympathetic magic on your part?"