Governor’s Budget Affirms Commitment to Strengthening Families and Reinvigorating Florida’s Economy (01/28/2010)

For Immediate Release 
January 28, 2010

Contact:
Robby Cunningham
(850) 245-7130

Governor’s Budget Affirms Commitment to Strengthening Families and Reinvigorating Florida’s Economy

~Priorities include funding for additional children to attend Voluntary Prekindergarten, additional workforce development and ongoing enhancements to the state's Unemployment Compensation system~

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist’s budget priorities for Fiscal Year 2010-11, unveiled today, support the Agency for Workforce Innovation’s ongoing commitment to help strengthen families and reinvigorate Florida’s economy through quality early learning programs, workforce services and assistance for the unemployed. 
“Today’s budget recommendations emphasize Governor Crist’s dedication to supporting and strengthening Florida’s present and future workforce,” said Cynthia R. Lorenzo, Director of the Agency for Workforce Innovation. “These recommendations will enhance our efforts to ensure educational success for Florida’s children, better serve unemployment compensation beneficiaries and expand services for job seekers.”  

Early Learning
AWI’s Early Learning Programs continue to support more than 600,000 children and their families each year. To build on this commitment and ensure Florida's children have opportunities for success in school and in life through quality early learning programs, Governor Crist recommends the following: 

Maintain School Readiness funding at $615.4 million - to ensure eligible families continue to receive quality child care, allowing parents to seek or maintain employment. 

Increase Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) program funding to $411.5 million -  to meet additional demand for Florida’s VPK program, which enabled more than 654,000 children to enter kindergarten better prepared since the program began in 2005.  $2 million will be used to develop the Early Learning Information System to streamline services and to maximize the investment in children.

Workforce Development
AWI and its partners provide job placement and job training services to more than 1.8 million job seekers through Florida’s workforce services programs.  To continue to build a vibrant workforce that will ensure Florida remains competitive in the world marketplace, Governor Crist recommends the following:

$3.3 million in Quick Response Training funds – Florida’s Quick Response Training (QRT) program provides grants for customized training for new or expanding businesses. Through this employer-driven program, Florida is able to effectively retain and attract both new and expanding industries to the state, creating new high-quality jobs.  This expenditure will leverage approximately $22 million in private industry funds to create and provide training for 6,250 jobs.

Maintain Regional Workforce Board funding of  $263.3 million - to continue to meet the increased demand for services.

$3.4 million for training for at-risk youth – helps at-risk youth overcome barriers to employment and facilitate successful participation in the workforce.

Unemployment Compensation
To sustain Floridians while they seek employment and to continue the benefits payments that stabilize our economy, Governor Crist’s Fiscal Year 2010-11 budget recommends $62.7 million to enhance the processing and distribution of unemployment compensation benefits, which includes:

$16 million to continue call center operations – to provide expanded call center services to assist unemployed Floridians.

$18 million for unemployment compensation – to administer the unemployment compensation program.

$27.6 million for technology improvements – includes the replacement of the 37-year-old computer system that processes unemployment compensation benefit claims.

Florida Back to Work
Governor Crist also recommended the allocation of $200 million in federal funding to assist Florida businesses with hiring individuals who are eligible for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.  Announced last month, the Florida Back to Work Program subsidizes the wages of eligible employees through September 30, 2010.  These time-limited federal funds will provide Florida businesses with employees to grow their business while providing low-income individuals with valuable work experience.  To date, over 900 businesses have responded, which will result in the creation of over 10,000 jobs. 

For additional details on the Governor’s recommended Fiscal Year 2010-11 budget, visit www.MyFlorida.com and click on “The People’s Budget,” or visit www.ThePeoplesBudget.state.fl.us.

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