Today, Governor Rick Scott highlighted increased funding for early childhood education at All About Kids in Jacksonville. 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, "Children who get a quality early learning opportunity are on the right path for success in school and in life. Investing in early learning is an investment in the future of our children, our families and our state. Florida is a leader in early learning, and is ranked first in the nation with regards to prekindergarten access. The additional $100 per child budget increase for VPK will help ensure that our VPK students are better prepared from kindergarten."
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.
Senator John Thrasher said, "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 Aaron Bean said, "Children across the state rely on early learning systems to be prepared for starting school. Florida is number one in the nation for access to prekindergarten and I would like to thank Governor Scott for keeping this crucial education a priority."
Senator Bill Montford said, "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. With this investment, Florida will continue to be a leader in early learning and families across the state will continue to see their children succeed."
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. We know a quality education can lead to a life time of success and we are helping to create this opportunity for all Florida's children."
Representative Janet Adkins said, "The Governor's proposed $1.1 billion in state funding shows that he is committed to creating the best learning opportunities possible. Investing in early learning systems ensures Florida's children have the best opportunities possible to succeed as they begin their education and continue into the K-12 school system."
Representative Charles McBurney said, "Florida is leading the way in early learning, and this investment by Governor Scott will ensure Florida children continue to be well prepared for beginning their education."
Representative Daniel Davis said, "In order to ensure that our students will succeed in both the classroom and workforce we must start early in preparing them to get a great education. The Governor's commitment to early learning shows that he understands the importance of building a strong foundation for future education."
Executive Director of the Office of Early Learning Shan Goff said, "High quality early learning opportunities are important for children and families in our state. The Governor's proposed budget shows that he recognizes that and is committed to early learning."
Early Learning Coalition of Duval Board Chair Jennifer Chapman said, "We applaud Gov. Scott for his support of the VPK program. As the leader of our great state it is important that he has acknowledged the public/private partnerships in early learning that help ensure our children enter school ready to succeed."
Early Learning Coalition of Duval President & CEO Susan Main said, "It is an honor to have Governor Scott come to Jacksonville to tour one of our high-quality VPK programs. Governor Scott has proven he understands the importance of early learning in building a strong foundation for Florida's future.
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.