Local Speak Out on Governor's Budget Proposal

The governor and lieutenant governor recommend an overall increase of $1.4 billion, for a total of $55.4 billion. One part of the proposal focuses on child welfare, and this is where some local child advocates are raising eyebrows.

A key issue within Gov. Jeb Bush's budget proposal is located in the section on strengthening families.

"The safety and well being of Florida's children are one of our highest priorities, I recommend that one billion dollars for child welfare programs be next year," said Gov. Jeb Bush.

That's a 136 percent increase since fiscal year 1998-99. Child advocate Jack Levine is excited about the $128 million increase for adoptions, but he had debate with the $1 billion for child welfare.

"The real story is we've had and almost equal number of children into the system, we've almost doubled the number of children in the system, so while we brag bout the increase in money we have. There is also a tremendous increase in need," said Jack Levine, President of Advocacy Resources.

Levine says he's also not happy with only $4 million being considered to prevent child abuse.

Carol McNally works with Healthy Families.

"I think anytime you see and increase in child abuse prevention, we need to be excited about that," said Carol McNally, Executive Director of Healthy Families, Florida.

To give you more information about that $1 billion for child welfare, $10 million is proposed for behavioral health care services, $30 million for foster care.

In terms of strengthening families, other highpoints were included within the budget. The governor and lt. governor also propose $3.2 billion in total funding for Kidcare, which will provide health care coverage to 50,000 children through Medicaid.


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