This initiative will benefit children, strengthen families and eventually help our Missouri businesses by growing a workforce that has the soft skills needed to compete in the 21st century. The ballot language is clear and correct and nothing will negatively impact medical research or any other field for that matter. Missouri is the dumping ground for cheap cigarettes because of our low tax rate. This will end subsidies for the off brand cigarette manufacturers and bring our state in line with our neighbors. And most importantly, we will no longer be one of the worst states for early childhood funding. If you want to continue to prop up cheap cigarette companies and protect their profits, then vote NO. If you think all tobacco compaines should play by the same rules and you want to invest in our children, then vote YesOn3!read moreEarly Childhood Health and Education Amendment Officially Qualifies for November BallotSupporters Rally in St. Louis as SOS Makes Measure Official Speakers from Numerous Groups Statewide Voice Their Backing of Amendment that Will Finally Bring Real Early Childhood Education Access to Missouri’s Families Funding Will be Guaranteed By Law to Go to Early Childhood Education; Politicians Cannot Divert It ST. LOUIS (August 9, 2016) - The Early Childhood Health and Education Amendment, an initiative to finally expand early childhood education in the Show-Me State, has officially qualified for the November 8 ballot. The measure was certified today by the Office of the Secretary of State. It will be Amendment 3 when voters go in to their polling booths. The certification occurs after more than 200,000 Missourians signed petitions backing the historic effort. And today’s news follows new polling showing overwhelming public support for the Amendment. A survey of state voters found that the measure is backed by a roughly 2-1 margin, and 80% of voters, no matter where they stood on the Amendment specifically, oppose any and all efforts by cheap cigarette companies to use legal maneuvering to attempt to block November’s vote. As the Amendment was officially certified for the ballot, a number of community leaders from across the state gathered in St. Louis today to voice their support of this effort to provide real educational opportunities to Missouri’s young people and families. Among those in attendance at the Soulard School, a provider of both early-childhood and elementary education in the City, were State Senator Jamilah Nasheed; Maxine Clark, Founder of Build-a-Bear Workshop; Sarah Christman, Executive Director of the Soulard School; Reverend Starsky Wilson, Co-Chair of the Ferguson Commission and head of the Deaconess Foundation; and Jane Dueker with Raise Your Hand for Kids. Speaking about the Amendment, longtime education advocate Maxine Clark remarked, “This is our opportunity, Missouri. This is our chance, finally, to expand early childhood education access all across our state. In 2014 only 3% of Missouri 4-year-olds attended state-funded Pre-K. In Iowa that figure was 60%. In Oklahoma it was 76%. That is stunning. It is a real and longstanding education gap that hurts our students, our families, our businesses, and our communities. With Amendment 3, we finally have the opportunity to address this challenge head on, and make our state stronger and better prepared for the future.” State Senator Jamilah Nasheed noted, “We know that if we want to reduce crime and help our young people fulfill their true potential, it all starts with ensuring they get the educational opportunities they need and deserve. Missouri has fallen short of this goal. That’s no secret. We spend just $37 million a year on early childhood education, and that is unconscionable. But now, we have our chance to fix this and to stand up for Missouri’s present and future by voting yes on Amendment 3 this November. This vote will be an investment in our greatest resource: our children.” Reverend Starsky Wilson added, “The research is clear: when our children gain access to early childhood education opportunities, they gain access to their future. Early childhood education has been proven to help reduce crime and make our communities safer. It builds stronger citizens and attracts new employers who want to hire workers who are educated, trained, and ready for the good-paying jobs of tomorrow. Voting yes on Amendment 3 is how we will make Missouri stronger and safer.” Finally, Jane Dueker with Raise Your Hand for Kids concluded, “It’s time we provided a true funding stream for early childhood education in our state: money that the politicians can’t touch or divert, money that goes right to where our children learn. When Amendment 3 passes we will be able to hire new teachers, open new classrooms and provide 21st century teaching tools for Missouri children in every community from Joplin to St. Louis, Kansas City to Kirksville. That’s why we’ve done this as a constitutional amendment. So we can all vote yes for Missouri’s children and know the money is going exactly where we want it to go: because it is safeguarded by law. This is our moment to catch Missouri up to the rest of the country, and save significant taxpayer dollars in the future by making a smart investment today.” Investing in early childhood education is a proven way to reduce crime, grow the economy and save taxpayer dollars. Amendment 3 will establish a secure and untouchable source of funding by simply raising Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax to a level that is still one of the lowest in the nation, and putting that money, $300 million per year once the measure is fully phased in by 2020, in a constitutionally-protected lockbox that ensures it goes to early childhood education. The Amendment is supported by a broad coalition of respected groups from all areas of the state, including the Missouri School Boards’ Association, Missouri State NAACP, the Missouri Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators, the Missouri PTA, Parents as Teachers, Mosaic Life Care, SSM Health Care and many others.read more
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