Senate Ed. Cmte. moves bill directing Lawton Chiles fund toward heart research

Lawton Chilles
The money now all goes to children's health programs.

A bill moved forward in the Senate Tuesday that would shift funding in the Lawton Chiles Endowment Fund for cardiovascular research at the University of South Florida.

The fund, named for former Gov. Lawton Chiles, was set up in 1999 to provide perpetual funding for children’s health programs.

The legislation (SB 1656), sponsored by Sen. Joe Gruters, would modify the structure for the fund. In any year, it would require the state’s Chief Financial Officer to transfer half the funds reverted back each year to the state Board of Trustees to the University of South Florida for research at the Health Heart Institute there.

That institution studies coronary artery disease, heart failure, strokes and other heart conditions. Health officials there note heart disease impacts 71% of Americans ages 40-70. For years, heart disease has been the top killer among Americans.

Chiles, also a former U.S. Senator, notably died from a heart attack in 1998 shortly before the end of his second term as Governor. He died in the Governor’s mansion, and was found near a cycling machine in the gymnasium there.

Jim McGill spoke on behalf of USF Health.

“We wholeheartedly support your efforts in this regard,” he said.

The bill would reduce funds available in the Tobacco Settlement Trust Fund, However last fiscal year, some $1.9 million in appropriated funds were never spent.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


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