HARRISBURG - Retired military leaders are asking Pennsylvania lawmakers to reject proposed cuts in state aid for early-childhood education out of concern that a large group of young Americans are unfit to join the military.

The group, called Mission: Readiness, sent the letters yesterday as debate over the depth of cuts in state school aid intensifies.

Specifically, the group is asking lawmakers to maintain $260 million in grants that are helping pay for full-day kindergarten and high-quality pre-school this year.

Gov. Corbett is proposing to eliminate the money in next year's budget.

The group also asked lawmakers to uphold Corbett's proposed funding levels for programs such as Pre-K Counts and Head Start.

The state is facing a projected multibillion-dollar deficit in the fiscal year beginning July 1.