Florida Scrutinized for Pre-K Cuts

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A national advocacy group is criticizing Florida for being the only state this year to cut its overall prekindergarten budget, even though per-student spending increased by $117.

The Legislature reduced the prekindergarten budget because it had more money than it needed last year due to lower-than-expected enrollment. The program so far has returned 97 million dollars to the state treasury for the 2006-07 fiscal year.

Pre-K Now says those dollars should have been plowed back into the program. The Washington-based group advocates voluntary prekindergarten for all three- and four-year-old children.

Florida House Schools and Learning Council Chairman Joe Pickens is defending the spending reduction. The Palatka Republican says prekindergarten shouldn't get a windfall due to a faulty enrollment estimate at the expense of other state programs in a tight budget year.

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