Statement by CFO Jeff Atwater Regarding the Lawsuit to Eliminate the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program
Contact: Chris Cate
TALLAHASSEE – Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today issued the following statement on the lawsuit to eliminate the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program:
“I am outraged by the lawsuit seeking to eliminate the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (FTCSP). Since 2002, this program has been providing scholarships to disadvantaged, low income students whose families have longed for access to better schools. The FTCSP was expanded in 2010 and 2012 with broad bipartisan support in both chambers. For the entities filing this suit to choose to use the Courts for what they could not accomplish through the legislative process is both disheartening and disingenuous.
“Unfortunately, the investment of time and money in this action is a clear indication of exactly what the academic elites in Florida value. Instead of celebrating and building on the tremendous record of success this program has achieved for thousands of Florida’s children, the plaintiffs have turned their attention to undermining the opportunities of those children and families most in need in order to protect their professional fiefdoms. It is a sad and disturbing commentary that these organizations are much more interested in restricting options for success in order to make a purely bureaucratic point of order.
“During the 2013 – 2014 school year, nearly 60,000 students and their families were able to avail themselves of approximately $274 million in FTCSP scholarships. This is a 17% increase in participation over the prior year. Almost 70% of scholarship recipients were minorities, those most at risk from underperforming schools.
“It is as tragic as it is inexplicable that the full weight of the professional academic establishment in this state would target the most vulnerable of our children. Does the number of disadvantaged children eligible for these programs pose such a serious threat to the entrenched establishment that it is willing to refocus attention away from the pressing needs of the system they administer to quash the hopes and dreams of those with greater needs?
“The plaintiffs do not demonstrate strength by attacking the weakest among us. That is a sign of intellectual and moral bankruptcy. Floridians deserve far better.”
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Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government; reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses and providing transparency and accountability in state spending.