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State Lawmakers Approve Legislation to Improve Financial Literacy in Florida

5/2/2006

CONTACT:
Tami Torres or Bob Lotane
(850) 413-2842
 
TALLAHASSEE – Tom Gallagher, Florida's chief financial officer,  applauded state lawmakers in both the House and Senate for passing legislation he proposed to boost financial literacy efforts in Florida.   The legislation creates a Financial Literacy Council to serve as a central resource for consumers and small businesses on financial issues.  Gallagher said he proposed the measure in response to polls showing too many Floridians are in precarious financial condition and are waiting too long to plan for their future.
 
"Data shows that one-third of Floridians have more debt than savings and are not saving enough to retire," said Gallagher.  "The Financial Literacy Council will serve as central resource and clearinghouse for families and small businesses to obtain the information and resources they need to make informed financial decisions."
           
The new law creates a ten-member Financial Literacy Council headed by the chief financial officer which would study the problems that affect consumers, particularly small businesses, young people, and seniors.  It would be charged with creating a comprehensive state resource to provide financial planning assistance to Floridians.  The resource will include user-friendly information on savings, loans, investment products, managing debt, and planning for college expenses and retirement. 
           
The committee will also conduct outreach to assure consumers are made aware of the financial tools it develops through both web-based media, written educational materials and by holding public meetings around the state.
           
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Jeff Atwater and Rep. Thad Altman.
 
Sen. Atwater said, "This resource will help our seniors navigate the often confusing choices they face in funding their retirement and more importantly will steer them away from poor investments that rob them of their savings."
            
"Floridians need a resource that can provide easy-to-understand, common sense financial information from a source that isn't looking to sell them something" said Rep. Altman.  "That is what this legislation aims to create for our state's consumers." 
            
The Financial Literacy Council would consist of nine members appointed by the CFO.  The committee members would be required to represent the state's cultural, ethnic and geographic makeup and will be drawn from various areas of the financial industry, the senior population and the public.