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May 28, 2004
Commissioner Horne Commends Governor Bush and Florida Legislature for $1.6 Billion Boost in K-20 Education Funding
Budget includes increases in funding for K-12 public schools, reading programs, community colleges, state universities and student financial aid
TALLAHASSEE Education Commissioner Jim Horne lauded the 2004-05 state budget signed today by Governor Jeb Bush, which continues to make education a priority in Florida. Every education sector in Florida received a boost in funding, with community colleges receiving their largest funding increase in five years.
"Florida's budget continues our commitment to reading, rising student achievement, and access to higher education," said Commissioner Horne. "Governor Bush and the Florida Legislature are providing the support it takes to continue to drive Florida toward excellence in education."
Among the highlights in Florida's $17.9 billion state education budget are:
- K-12 Public School Funding: Florida's public schools will see a $1 billion (7.3 percent) increase in total funds next year, which exceeds the statewide student enrollment growth of 2.3 percent. This represents a $269 average per student increase (4.9 percent) next year, including the projected enrollment increase of almost 60,000 students. $15.9 billion in total (state funds and local effort) funds will be available for districts in the 2004-05 school year, which includes FRS savings. Over the past six years, Governor Bush has increased K-12 spending by 43 percent. It will take $978.8 to implement Florida's constitutional requirement next year to reduce class size. This increase of $510.6 million (109 percent) means that $1.45 billion has been appropriated for the first two years of the 8-year implementation period in operating costs alone. Additionally, $700 million has been appropriated in fixed capital outlay, bringing the total state cost for the first two years of class size reduction to more than $2 billion.
- Reading Programs: Florida is investing $143.1 million for reading initiatives next year that will allow the state to continue building on its successes through reading grants and reading coaches in the state's elementary schools. Just Read, Florida! will receive a $22.9 million increase (30.2 percent) to $98.5 million. The program has been critical to the success and rising student achievement demonstrated by Florida's public school children. Thanks to the Legislature's passage of the Middle School Reform Act and a $16.7 million appropriation, reading coaches will be placed in 282 middle schools.
- Community Colleges and Workforce Education: Florida's community colleges will get the support they need as they continue to meet the demands of a growing economy in need of highly skilled workers. The state's community college system will receive a total of $1.5 billion next year, a $136.4 million (9.7 percent) increase over current year funding and the largest percentage increase in five years. The Academic Matching Grants were fully funded at $50.8 million, and the Facilities Challenge Grants received full funding of $22.4 million. School district workforce education programs received a $10 million (2.5%) increase in state funding.
- State Universities and Student Financial Assistance: Florida's state universities will receive $3 billion in total funding next year, a $402.7 million (15.6 percent) increase over current year. This includes $61.5 million to fund the Board of Governor's enrollment growth request, $94.8 million to fully fund the Major Gift backlog through December 31, 2003 and $18.2 million to fully fund the facilities matching grant backlog through March 19, 2004. The budget also includes an increase in student financial assistance of $39.7 million over last year, including full funding for Bright Futures Scholarships at $268.1 million.