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Sen. Travis Hutson Brings Back Bill Mandating Financial Literacy Course In Dorothy Hukill's memory


A bill to create a mandatory financial literacy course for high school students is advancing through the Florida Senate. Republican State Senator Travis Hutson is bringing the measure back in honor of his former colleague.

This isn’t the first time a financial literacy bill has been introduced. Late Senator Dorothy Hukill proposed the measure several times unsuccessfully in recent years. Now, Hutson is presenting the bill exactly as Hukill has in the past.

“Part of the curriculum they need to learn – bank accounts, how to open them up, how to manage them,” Hutson said Tuesday. “Difference between credit scores and credit card debts. How to do leases and basic contracts – kind of money management.”

The measure would replace half an elective credit with the financial curriculum for students starting as a freshman in 2019. They would be able to take the course any year before graduation.

“It’s stuff that, if you hadn’t learned it, you would go through it in the growing pains of becoming an adult – trying to figure it all out,” Hutson said. “We do a crash course in a half a semester.”

Hutson thinks over time, the investment of creating a program would pay for itself.

“I think when you look at financial literacy, we’ve got a lot of people who are going into debt and are trying to figure out life at a young age,” Hutson said. “And if we can teach them this, even if there’s a front end cost – the back end benefits are going to be tremendous to the state.”

Lobbyist Brian Pitts says such a course isn’t needed.

“Already, in social studies standards and economics – in that economics is literacy curriculum. The Hukill literacy bill has two thirds of that already in it. One third of it is not in the existing standards. So they are going to have two curricula,” Pitts said.

Pitts would rather see legislators combine the two.

“It’s not necessary- that bill is totally not necessary,” Pitts said. “If anything, add the Hukill one-third addition to the standards already in social studies-economics, and there you’ve got it.”

Hutson responded to Pitts’ point, insisting the financial literacy portion of current economics curriculum is too short.

“I think the difference that me and Mr. Pitts had was, he thought that it’s already being done, so why break it out and add more workload to the children? Like I said, it’s only two weeks of economics,” Hutson said following Tuesday’s Senate Education Committee meeting. “I’d rather them learn more micro-economics in economics, because they do learn a lot, and then get into financial literacy on its own and not be shoved into a two-week curriculum.”

A member of the Senate for nearly 15 years, Dorothy Hukill died last year at 72. Hutson’s bill got the Senate Education Committee’s stamp of approval Tuesday.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.