DENVER (KDVR) — After Colorado voters paved the way to fund a new state department dedicated to making universal pre-K a reality for parents, Gov. Jared Polis and state lawmakers are highlighting new legislation to bring that plan into the next stage.

The bill would establish duties for the Department of Early Childhood and its Executive Director, among other things.

“We promised universal preschool, and today, in partnership with legislative leaders and strong early childhood community support, we are delivering on that promise, saving families money, and helping to ensure Colorado’s kids, families, and parents can thrive,” Polis said. “Strong early childhood education leads to a stronger workforce and a better economy, and is one of the best investments we can make in Colorado’s future.”

Last fall, the governor outlined how the Department of Early Childhood will absorb the responsibilities of the Office of Early Childhood within the Department of Human Services and will establish universal pre-K by 2023.

The DEC will formally begin its business when it launches this summer. According to the administration, the program would save Coloradans, on average, $4,300 per year, offering 10 hours per week of free preschool education the year before entering kindergarten.

Universal Pre-K was overwhelmingly approved by voters in the 2020 election, with 67% voting in favor of Proposition EE: an incremental tax on cigarettes and nicotine products to fund the program.

You can watch the news conference on FOX31 NOW.