January 9, 2009
State funding for abstinence-only sex education and crisis pregnancy counseling offering abortion alternatives would be cut under a Florida Senate proposal. Last spring, a Senate proposal to slash the $2 million program was turned back by House leaders. Under Sen. Nan Rich's (D-Sunrise) plan, the state would cut all the $600,000 in funds remaining for the program from this year's budget.
"There is not one peer-reviewed study that says that program works," said Rich, vice-chair of the Senate Health Appropriations panel. "It is a dismal failure, and that was the charge from the Senate president: Look for things that don't work, and let's take the money and use it in critical-need areas."
The House is now considering cutting the program by 4 percent, while Rich said her committee will propose sweeping all the remaining money into other health spending. However, supporters of the program say they will lobby to protect it. "The services being provided are extremely important," said John Stemberger, head of the socially conservative Florida Family Policy Council.