African American Leaders Urge Voters to Support Amendment 3 Early Childhood Health and Education Amendment Will Provide Families with Access to Quality Early Childhood Programs Critical to Success in the Classroom and Throughout Life ST. LOUIS (October 6, 2016) – A group of past and present African American elected leaders urged voters to support Amendment 3, the Early Childhood Health and Education Amendment. The amendment provides $300 million annually for early childhood health and education programs, as well as smoking cessation and prevention programs for pregnant mothers and youth, through an incremental increase in Missouri’s cigarette tax. Currently, Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation at 17 cents per pack. Amendment 3 invests in crucial early childhood health and education programs. These investments will provide access to quality preschool, home visitation programs like Parents as Teachers and Nurses for Newborns, preventative health care and health screenings for children ages birth through five, and smoking cessation and prevention for pregnant mothers. “It’s time to turn words into action,” said former state representative, Betty Thompson. “Both the Ferguson Commission and Washington University’s For the Sake of All report point to early childhood development as one of the key ingredients to the success of our children and our region. We need to quit talking and starting doing. Get out and vote Yes for Amendment 3 this November.” “Our children both need and deserve high quality early childhood health and education services and Amendment 3 will deliver them,” added St. Louis County Councilwoman Hazel Erby. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in our children and we need to act on it.” Representative Courtney Curtis, a state legislator whose district encompasses part of Ferguson, stated how important the amendment is to his constituents. “We can’t let another generation of children arrive to kindergarten unprepared because many of them won’t be able to catch up. Amendment 3 will provide communities like Ferguson with the resources to make sure children show up to school healthy and ready to learn.” Leaders also encouraged voters to participate in the Revitalizing the Region event, hosted by Raise Your Hand for Kids and co-hosted by Beyond Housing, Missouri Budget Project, St. Louis Regional Early Childhood Council, Youth in Need, Parents as Teachers, United for Children, Vision for Children at Risk, Child Care Aware of Missouri®, LUME Institute, Nurses for Newborns, Grace Hill Settlement House, St. Louis Center for Family Development, and the Maternal, Child and Family Health Coalition. The event will take place on October 8th, 9:00am - 4:00pm, at the Holiday Inn, 811 N. 9th Street in downtown St. Louis. The event will include a community partnership networking event to connect attendees and enable the community to become proactive not only in the passage of Amendment 3, but also in the planning for and implementation of Amendment 3. In addition, there will be a panel on community pride, health and wellness, and economic development. 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 a moderate amount, 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 programming. 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, Children’s Mercy Hospital, U.S. Engineering, Missouri Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators, Missouri Association for the Education of Young Children, Associated Industries of Missouri, Mosaic Life Care, SSM Health Care, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Kansas City Mayor Sly James. ### Click here to download a copy of the press release.read moreWE WON! The unanimous verdict is in - the Missouri Supreme Court secured our spot on the November ballot! Click here to read the opinion. Statement below from Yes On 3 attorney Jane Dueker: Victory for Amendment 3; Victory for Kids We are extremely pleased by the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision to affirm the will of the more than 200,000 Missourians who signed petitions supporting “Yes on 3 for Kids.” Voters know that we must start investing in Missouri kids by expanding early childhood education, and Amendment 3 provides an unprecedented opportunity to do just that. Missouri has failed to invest in early childhood education for far too long. Once again, opponents of Amendment 3 were defeated in the courtroom, as the state’s highest court chose to uphold the constitutional rights of citizen-proponents. Now is the time to stop these frivolous lawsuits. Now is the time for politicians to stop putting special interests above kids, and to recognize that Amendment 3 is the only plan that will expand early childhood education in our state. The people of Missouri overwhelmingly believe they should be able to vote on this critical amendment, and their right should not and now will not be denied by these companies and special interests. Missouri lags our neighboring states, and most of the country, in providing access to state-funded early childhood education. In 2014 only 3% of our 4-year-olds were enrolled in these programs, compared to 76%in Oklahoma and 60% in Iowa. That is unacceptable. Amendment #3 is the right way to close this gap. With the amendment written into the Missouri constitution, it will ensure that all the money it raises will go directly to early childhood education and healthcare, and that Jefferson City politicians will not be able to get their hands on these funds or divert them to other programs. It is the best and only proposal on the table to expand early childhood education and ensure that we make Missouri stronger. For these reasons, and many others, Amendment 3 is supported by a broad coalition of respected groups from all areas of the state, including the Missouri School Boards’ Association, Associated Industries of Missouri, Missouri State NAACP, the Missouri Retailers’ Association, Children’s Mercy, Child Care Aware of Missouri, Nurses for Newborns, the Maternal, Child & Family Health Coalition, the Missouri Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators, SSM Health Care and many others; the Amendment also has strong support from St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Kansas City Mayor Sly James. The people of Missouri overwhelmingly believe they should be able to vote on this critical amendment, and that right was ensured today by the Missouri Supreme Court. We thank the Court for its ruling, and we look forward to the passage of Amendment 3 this November and to a brighter future for all Missouri kids and communities.read more
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