More California kids would attend preschool under push in Legislature

Democrats return to the California Capitol on Monday with their strongest political advantage in decades poised to fulfill a huge item on their list of pent-up demands: Vastly expanded access to preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds.

Their plan comes with a big price tag, a problem that has doomed past proposals, most recently with outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown. But with huge legislative majorities and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, who called for more spending on early education in his campaign, they see an opportunity.

“There’s no better place to invest… There’s undisputed evidence that shows this is a fantastic remedy,” said Democratic Assemblyman Kevin McCarty of Sacramento. He plans to introduce a nearly $2 billion package of bills Monday to give access to preschool to all low-income 4-year-olds and more 3-year-olds.

Early childhood education has been linked to myriad positive outcomes, from lower rates of incarceration to higher pay.