DENVER — Universal preschool is one big step closer to becoming a reality in Colorado after the state House of Representatives approved House Bill 1295 on Friday, sending it to the state Senate for consideration.
If enacted, the bill would establish the long-promised universal preschool program and a new Department of Early Childhood in Colorado. Under the bill, the program would begin in 2023, providing 10 hours per week of free preschool for all children the year before they enter kindergarten.
“Universal preschool in Colorado is not far off,” said House Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver, who is sponsoring the bill. “We’ve heard from families in all four corners of our state, they want more early childhood options, and we’re making it happen.”
> Video above: Polis announces Colorado's early childhood care, education plans last November.
The House passed the bill in a 43-19 vote, with only Republican representatives in opposition.
The vote came after several hours of debate on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday — including Cañon City Republican Rep. Ron Hanks spending more than 30 minutes reading aloud portions of the nearly 500-page bill to delay the vote.
Below, Gov. Jared Polis discusses next steps for a universal preschool program, March 15, 2022:
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