The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

120 business leaders urge Congress to increase pre-K funding

A group of 120 business leaders from across the country have sent a nonpartisan letter to Republican and Democratic congressional budget leaders urging them to boost funding for early childhood education.

Earlier this year President Obama called on Congress to greatly expand quality early childhood education preschool programs around the country.

The letter was organized by a group of national early childhood organizations, including the First Five Years Fund, ReadyNation and America’s Edge, to show widespread support for significant pre-K funding.  It says in part:

Research shows that the skills deficit emerges as early as 18 months, widens throughout the early years, and is difficult and expensive to close. Simply put, early skills are the essential foundation for later success. Fortunately, developmental science and economics point us to an effective and cost-efficient solution: quality early childhood programs for disadvantaged children from birth to age five.

Here’s the text of the letter:

November 5, 2013


Senator Patty Murray
Chairman, Senate Budget Committee
624 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510


Representative Paul Ryan
Chairman, House Budget Committee
207 Cannon House Office Building
Washington DC 20515


Senator Jeff Sessions
Ranking Member, Senate Budget Committee
624 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20515


Representative Chris Van Hollen
Ranking Member, House Budget Committee
B-71Cannon House Office Building
Washington DC 20515


Dear Chairman Murray, Chairman Ryan, Ranking Member Sessions and Ranking Member Van Hollen:


As business leaders from across the country, we urge you to make early investments in human capital development that drives greater economic productivity and strength for our nation. The Budget Conference Committee should seek to close our budget deficit, while making greater investments in closing the deficit in skills that is weakening America’s workforce and economic competitiveness. Both these goals can be accomplished by making substantial investments in high quality early childhood education for disadvantaged children from birth to five.


Our businesses, and our nation as a whole, face a lack of skilled workers, a shrinking middle class, and diminishing buying power among consumers in housing, durable goods, products and services that have traditionally driven our economy. A strong, sustainable economy hinges on a workforce that is knowledgeable, smart, persistent, and capable of working in teams to solve complex problems, earning higher wages, and moving their families ahead through opportunity and enterprise. That is why we cannot close our budget deficit until we close our skills deficit.


Research shows that the skills deficit emerges as early as 18 months, widens throughout the early years, and is difficult and expensive to close. Simply put, early skills are the essential foundation for later success. Fortunately, developmental science and economics point us to an effective and cost-efficient solution: quality early childhood programs for disadvantaged children from birth to age five. They more than pay for themselves in better education, health, social, and economic outcomes. Just as importantly, they impart the skills that are essential for building our future workforce, reducing costly social spending and producing our way out of our budget deficits.


Investing in early childhood education is a practical, not partisan issue. Across the nation, Republican and Democratic governors are employing early childhood education as a solution for greater achievement, less crime and social dependency and more effective workforce development. But states don’t have the resources to do it alone. We need a federal investment that helps states and communities continue their work to provide innovation, access and outcomes that pay off for everyone. Your budget negotiations present a critical opportunity to leverage this worthy and much-needed solution for advancing America’s economic future. Investing in early learning is good for children, great for families and essential for business.
Nicholas K. Akins
President and CEO, American Electric Power
John W. Altmeyer
President and CEO, Carlisle Construction Materials
Steven M. Altschuler
CEO, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia


Thomas E. Arenberg
Managing Director (Retired), Accenture


Darrell W. Auterson
President and CEO, York County Economic Alliance


Curt Bailey
President, Related Midwest


Bruce M. Bartels
Former President, WellSpan Health


J. Robert Baum
Chairman, Highmark Inc.


Peter A. Benoliel
Chairman Emeritus, Quaker Chemical Corporation


Donald M. Bernhard
Director, Community Affairs, PPL


B. Bradford Billings
President and CEO, Blessing Health System


Arthur M. Blank
Owner and CEO, Atlanta Falcons
Co-founder, The Home Depot


Betsy C. Bort
Vice President, Commercial Lending, ERIEBANK


Terry R. Bossert
Vice President, Legislation and Regulatory Affairs, Range Resources Appalachia LLC


John J. Brennan
Chairman Emeritus and Senior Advisor, Vanguard


Peter P. Brubaker
Former President and CEO, Susquehanna Media Co.


John Bucksbaum
CEO, Bucksbaum Retail Properties


Brad Busse
Former President, Daniels & Associates


Anthony P. Campisi
President and CEO, Glatfelter Insurance Group


Kevin Carnes
President, Lakeshore Learning Materials


Denise S. Cesare
President and CEO, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania


Michael Chesser
Chairman and CEO (Retired), Great Plains Energy, Inc.


Robert H. Colson
Distinguished Lecturer of Accountancy, Baruch College
Former Partner, Grant Thornton


Tanny Crane
President and CEO, Crane Group


Ann C. Crouter
Dean, Penn State University College of Health and Human Development


Maria A. Culp
Former President and CEO, Central Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce


Peter J. Danchak
President, Northeast PA, PNC Bank


Philip E. Devorris
President and CEO, Blair Companies


Stephanie N. Doliveira, Esq.
Vice President, Human Resources, Sheetz Inc.


Edward Donley
Former Chairman, Air Products and Chemicals Inc.


Rob Dugger
Managing Partner, Hanover Provident Capital


Robert C. Esch
Vice President, External Affairs, American Refining Group


Varsovia Fernández
President and CEO, Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce


Frank J. Ford
President, St. Luke’s Hospital, Allentown Campus, St. Luke’s University Health Network


Charlene A. Friedman
CFO, Friedman Real Estate Group


Timothy M. Gage
Former Vice President, Human Resources, Brodart Company


James F. Glunt
Partner, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.


Earl G. Graves, Jr.
President and CEO, Black Enterprise


Mike Grindell
Chief Administrative Officer, 22squared


Barbara B. Grogan
Chairman Emeritus, Western Industrial Contractors


Patrick W. Gross
Chairman, The Lovell Group


Ronald Grzywinski
Chairman Emeritus, ShoreBank Corporation


Carl Guardino
President and CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group


Tom Haffner
President and CEO, P.T. International Corp.


Hollis Hart
Head, International Franchise Management, Citigroup


David W. Hawk
Chair of the Board, Gertrude Hawk Chocolates


Daniel B. Hoover
President and CEO, Roaring Spring Blank Book Co.


Henry G. Jackson
President and CEO, Society for Human Resource Management


Larry Jensen
President/CEO, Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors


George B. Kaiser
Board Chair, BOK Financial Corp.


Larry Kellner
Former CEO, Continental Airlines
President, Emerald Creek Group


Candace Kendle
Former CEO, Kendle International


Julia H. Klein
Chairwoman and CEO, C.H. Briggs Company


Lloyd H. Lamm
Regional Banking Executive, Capital Region, First National Bank of PA


David H. Langstaff
President and CEO, TASC, Inc.


Randall Lawton
Board Chair and Principal Owner, C. A. Lawton Co.


William Lehr, Jr.
Chairman of the Board, Capital Blue Cross


Alice G. Lindenauer
Managing Director, Global Human Resources, Hamilton Lane


Bob Linscheid
President and CEO, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce


Susan W. Lipp
Chairman, Full Compass Systems, Ltd.


Bruce K. MacLaury
President Emeritus, The Brookings Institution


Brian Maher
Former Chairman and CEO, Maher Terminals


Anthony G. Marshall
President and CEO, Innovative Systems Group, Inc.


Daniel McCarthy
President and Chief Operating Officer, Frontier Communications


Ken McNeely
President, AT&T California


Lenny Mendonca
Director, McKinsey and Company


David Merage
CEO, Consolidated Investment Group


Deborah Hicks Midanek
President, Solon Group, Inc.
Chairman, Prevail Fund, Inc.
Chairman, Grenada Community Foundation


Alfred T. Mockett
CEO, Dex One


Anne Mulcahy
Former CEO, Xerox


Michael S. Murchie
Regional President, Central and Western PA, M&T Bank


Cynthia Murray
President and CEO, North Bay Leadership Council


Dean O’Hare
Former Chairman and CEO, Chubb Corporation


Steve Odland
CEO, Committee for Economic Development


Joseph J. Peluso
Management Consultant and Managing General Partner, Laurel Petroleum


John Pepper
Former CEO, Procter & Gamble


Philip A. Peterson
Partner, Aon Hewitt


Todd E. Petzel
Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer, Offit Capital Advisors LLC


P. Timothy Phelps
Executive Director, Transportation Management Association of Chester County


Michael A. Plazony
Senior Vice President, Erie Insurance Group


J.B. Pritzker
Managing Partner, Pritzker Group


Byron J. Quinton
President and CEO, Clarion Hospital


John R. Rathgeber
President and CEO, CBIA


Matt Rezvani
Managing Partner, California Strategy Advisors


Sean C. Rice
Founder and Owner, Hudson River Group


Norman S. Rich
Former President and CEO, Weis Markets Inc.


James Rohr
Executive Chairman, PNC Financial Services Group


Daniel Rose
Chairman, Rose Associates, Inc.


Jesse Ruiz
Partner, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP


Audrey Russo
President and CEO, Pittsburgh Technology Council


Edward Rust
Chairman and CEO, State Farm Insurance Companies


Anthony J. Salvaggio
President and CEO, Computer Aid Inc.


Manuel Sánchez
Founder and Managing Principal, Sánchez Daniels & Hoffman, LLP


David W. Scheible
CEO and President, Graphic Packaging Corp. and Graphic Packaging International, Inc.


Nick Scott, Jr.
Vice President, Scott Enterprises


Michael E. Smeltzer
Executive Director, Manufacturers’ Association of South Central PA


Peter P. Smith
Senior Vice President, Academic Strategies and Development, Kaplan, Inc.


Tim Solso
Former CEO, Cummins Inc.


Dave J. Spigelmyer
President, Marcellus Shale Coalition


Jim Spurlino
President, Spurlino Materials


Jess M. Stairs
Former State Representative, Pennsylvania’s 59th District


Harrison Steans
Chairman of the Executive Committee, Financial Investments Corporation


Jon Stellmacher
Former Senior Vice President, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans


The Honorable Paula Stern
Chairwoman, The Stern Group, Inc.


John S. Sutika
President, DuBois Regional Medical Center


Vincentina C. Taylor
President, Waveline Direct LLC


Gary L. Toebben
President and CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce


Lee B. Torrence
President, CWB Enterprises


Dr. Jerry Weast
Founder and President, Partnership for Deliberate Excellence, LLC
Former Superintendent, Montgomery County Public Schools


Thomas G. Welsh
President, MBL (USA) Corporation


Harold M. Williams
President Emeritus, Getty Trust


John S. Williamson
Vice President, Finance, Direct Energy Business


Andrew B. Williford
Vice President, Human Resources, Volvo Construction Equipment Operations Americas


Catherine J. Woods
Senior Director Compliance and Quality, excelleRx Inc.


Steven T. Wray
Executive Director, Economy League of Greater Philadelphia


Julie Meier Wright
Strategic Advisor, Collaborative Economics


Duncan Wyse
President, Oregon Business Council


Dr. Kurt E. Yeager
President Emeritus, Electric Power Research Institute


Michael A. Young
President and CEO, PinnacleHealth System


Jim Zimmerman
Former CEO, Macy’s


CC: Budget Committee Conferees