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House Committee Debating More At Four Program

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Last week, Gov. Mike Easley said he would fund his preschool program, "More at Four," whether the money was in the budget or not. He also issued an executive order to hire hundreds of teachers, but lawmakers are saying not so fast.

A powerful House Appropriations subcommittee originally had money in its budget for delete "Gov. Mike" Easley's More at Four program designed to give more attention to at-risk pre-schoolers, but last week when Easley ordered that additional teachers be hired for the program with or without legislators' backing, they yanked the money out of their budget insisting it was not out of spite.

"It isn't being cute. We don't know at this point how to handle it because the governor has gone in and said he's going to institute it," said Rep. Edd Nye, D-Bladen County.

The change led to some confusion at Monday's meeting with members wondering if the funds originally earmarked for the program are now going somewhere else.

"Where are we getting the money then?" asked Rep. Theresa Esposito, R-Forsyth County, at the meeting.

The House's chief budget writer explained though that the money for More at Four does remain in the budget. The program will be debated in front of the full Appropriations committee instead of a subcommittee. A spokesman for Easley says the governor is confident More at Four will pass.


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