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Jeb and Republicans fail Florida voters again

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Bush vetoes prekindergarten measure

Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed a bill Friday that would have implemented a free prekindergarten program for Florida's 4-year-olds, which was approved by Florida voters two years ago.

Bush said the bill to implement the constitutional amendment fell short in several ways, including not laying out broad goals for what children should learn. The governor also wanted a requirement for a certain number of adults in each classroom to ensure safety.

Bush also said in a veto message that he will work with the Legislature to address his concerns next year. Among other items the governor said should be included are provisions strengthening training for prekindergarten teachers in reading and a provision making it clear that private and faith-based pre-k programs should be included as well as public school-run programs.

Voters approved an initiative in 2002 that called for a voluntary program to begin in the 2005-06 school year.

There will be more than 217,000 4-year-olds in Florida in 2005, the first year the plan will be in effect. An estimated 70 percent, or almost 152,000, are likely to participate in the pre-K programs.

Of that number, about 61,000 already are in some kind of pre-kindergarten program, so Florida is looking at adding another 90,000 4-year-olds.

The cost could range from $425 million to $600 million a year.

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