Today, Governor Rick Scott highlighted increased funding for early childhood education at the Miami Children's Museum. The Governor's "It's Your Money Tax Cut Budget" proposes $1.1 billion in state funding for early childhood education and care. This is an increase of $100 per child, which is the largest boost for early learning in the past decade.
Governor Scott said, "Families want their children to have high-quality educational opportunities and research shows a good education begins early. That is why investing $1.1 billion in early childhood education is so important for our state. I am committed to continued support for early learning, and making sure Florida remains number one in the nation for access to prekindergarten."
Citing a recent report, the Governor noted that for the fifth consecutive year Florida students who completed the VPK Education Program were better prepared for kindergarten than those who only attended part of the program or did not participate in VPK at all.
David Lawrence Jr., president of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and chair of The Children's Movement of Florida said, "The governor's increasing interest in and commitment to early learning is good news for children and Florida. The governor has a big commitment to jobs-jobs-jobs, and what we are talking about, among other things, is workforce development."
Senator Rene Garcia said, "The Governor's commitment to early learning shows that he understands the importance of building a strong foundation for future education. I commend Governor Scott for his commitment to providing Florida's early learning programs with the support they need to prepare our children for future education."
Senator Anitere Flores said, "Early learning programs are crucial to building a strong foundation for future education. I commend the Governor for his work helping Florida's future leaders."
Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla said, "I commend Governor Scott for working to ensure our children have access to quality learning systems and are well prepared for beginning school."
Representative Marlene O'Toole said, "A quality education starts in prekindergarten, and with Governor Scott's help we are ensuring that our program will get students ready for school. Governor Scott's commitment to investing in early learning programs is a commitment to ensuring all of Florida's children have the opportunities to succeed in their education for years to come."
Representative Erik Fresen said, "The Governor's proposal will provide early learning programs with the tools they need to give children the best possible preparation for beginning school."
Representative Jeanette Nuñez said, "Florida's commitment to early learning is providing children with the opportunity to be best prepared for beginning school. I commend Governor Scott for supporting this continued commitment."
Representative Manny Diaz said, "An investment in early learning is an investment in Florida's future generations. I am thankful for Governor Scott's work to make our children a priority."
Representative Jose Felix Diaz said, "This investment in early learning systems will ensure Florida's children have the best opportunities possible to succeed as they begin their education."
Representative Carlos Trujillo said, "Investing in our young children will better prepare them for kindergarten and build a solid foundation for future education. I applaud the Governor's dedication to Florida children."
Representative Eddy Gonzalez said, "This is great news for Miami families. With this investment in early learning, our children will have the opportunities to succeed as they prepare for beginning their education."
Representative Holly Raschein said, "Governor Scott's commitment to early learning will provide our children with the opportunities they need to succeed in their education for years to come."
Executive Director of the Office of Early Learning Shan Goff said, "Early learning programs in our state are making a difference for children and families. Children who attend VPK are much more ready to learn in kindergarten than those who do not. The Governor's proposed budget puts more resources into those programs so that they will continue to get even better."
Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe Board Chair Adrian Alfonso said, "The success of Florida's VPK program will no doubt give Floridians an excellent return on their investment. I stand with the Governor in recognizing that there is no better gift that we can give our children than a great education."
Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe Executive Director Evelio Torres said, "I see the difference daily that the VPK program is making. I see it in the classroom, I see it in the teachers, but most important of all I see it in the children. We are so proud of them all. And we are grateful to the Governor for supporting early learning in his proposed budget.
The additional $59 million proposed for early learning in the Governor's budget includes a $100 per child increase in the base student allocation for VPK, a one-time $30 million increase in funding for the School Readiness Program, and money for teacher scholarships and training.
More than 174,000 children--about 80 percent of Florida's 4-year-olds--were enrolled in VPK in 2012-13. The program is free for children who are Florida residents and will be 4 years old by September 1 of the year they would enroll.