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PRESS RELEASE

February 7, 2002

CONTACT: Bill Edmonds
Director of Communications
Director of Public Information
Division of Colleges & Universities
Florida Board of Education
(850) 201-7130

Education Secretary Praises Governor's Supplemental Budget

Education Secretary Jim Horne today praised Gov. Jeb Bush's Supplemental Budget, saying it would improve education for students throughout Florida's K-20 system.

"The Supplemental Budget provides additional resources to help students in reading, in readiness and other areas essential to their success," Horne said. "For Florida's parents, particularly for those with children in the critical early years of education, this is very good news. The Legislature can use the governor's recommendation to build an education budget that advances the hopes and dreams of millions of students and their families."

In the Executive Supplemental Budget submitted to the Legislature on Wednesday, the governor recommends an additional $8 million for Just Read, Florida! This is a substantial increase and brings the total state funding for grades 4-8 to $10 million. In addition, Just Read, Florida! provides $42 million in federal dollars for kindergarten through third grade.

The budget supplement also provides $2 million for early diagnostic testing of children in kindergarten through third grade. "Reading is the foundation for a happy and successful life," Horne said. "These additional dollars show that the governor is devoting the resources needed to make sure that every child in Florida is a good reader."

The governor also recommends $41.4 million more for the School Readiness Program to make services available to all eligible 4-year-olds from families living at or below 150 percent of the poverty level. This would lift spending on School Readiness to 8 percent above current funding. "Governor Bush's recommendation extends a helping hand to 16,000 more boys and girls," Horne said.

Horne noted that the Supplemental Budget also recommends establishment of a Florida Technology Development Initiative, which would apply $100 million to create university-based Centers of Excellence. "This is an exciting proposal for both Florida's universities and Florida's economy," Horne said. "This initiative by Governor Bush will be a powerful engine for the kind of high-tech university research and economic development that will power the state into the 21st century."

Additional recommendations in the Executive Supplemental Budget include:

  • $24.3 million for community college workforce funding. This restores workforce funding to the level held before last year's budgetary special session.

  • $48 million in discretionary funding for universities. This money would go to the university boards of trustees for use at their discretion for enrollment growth, academic challenge grants or other needs. Horne said he was pleased that the governor's recommendation fostered further devolution of these decisions to the university level.

  • $1.9 million for a variety of teacher scholarship funds. "This will help more Floridians pursue careers in teaching, a critical need in our state," Horne said.