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Florida Infant-Mortality Programs Avoid Proposed Budget Cuts

Andrew Seaman
/
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Listen to the story airing on 89.9 WJCT-FM

After weeks of uncertainty, the directors of Florida programs meant to reduce infant mortality are breathing a sigh of relief.

Lawmakers Wednesday agreed to keep their funding the same as last year instead of slashing it by 30 percent, which is what Senate leaders wanted to do.

More than 30 coalitions around the state are made up of programs that educate mothers-to-be on how to have successful pregnancies and new parents on how to take care of newborns.

Healthy Start Coalitions lobbyist Jane Murphy said the Senate backed off plans to cut their budget by $19 million. The coalitions also dodged another Senate proposal, she said, that would have rolled some of their services into county health departments.

Senate leaders had argued Healthy Start is duplicating assistance available elsewhere, but the House disagreed.

The Legislature created the Healthy Start program in the 1990s to reduce infant mortality rates, especially among black and Latino babies. The program takes responsibility for moving Florida’s ranking from one of the worst states for infant deaths, to just around average today.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at rbenk@wjct.org , at (904) 358 6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk .

Copyright 2020 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit WJCT News 89.9.

Ryan Benk is originally from Miami, Florida and came to Tallahassee to attend Florida State University. He worked on Miami Dade College’s Arts and Literature Magazine- Miamibiance Magazine and has published poetry and a short film called “ The Writer.” He’s currently working as the Newsroom’s Researcher while finishing his Creative Writing Bachelor’s Degree at Florida State University. When he’s not tracking down news, Ryan likes watching films, writing fiction and poetry, and exploring Florida.