Senate Speaker: Expanding pre-K will be hot topic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says the idea of opening the governor's pre-kindergarten program to children who aren't poor will be a contentious issue this year.

The Blountville Republican addressed The Associated Press and the Tennessee Press Association at their annual Legislative Planning Session on Thursday.

Ramsey acknowledged that he and Gov. Phil Bredesen don't agree on the issue and that it will be debated.

Bredesen, a Democrat, has budgeted $25 million to create up to 250 new pre-K classes. He wants to grant universal access to pre-K programs before he leaves office in 2010.

Ramsey says current studies on the effects of pre-K simply aren't conclusive enough to begin considering expanding it.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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