Legislation requiring high schoolers to take a financial literacy class has graduated to its final committee.
The proposal (HB 1115), dubbed the “Dorothy L. Hukill Financial Literacy Act,” would require high school students to take a half-credit financial literacy class before graduating. The measure is named after the late Hukill, a former Senator.
The course would teach students about banking practices, money management, credit scores, managing debt, loan applications, insurance policies and local tax assessments.
Speaking before the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee Tuesday, Coral Gables Republican Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera — the bill sponsor — said the measure would be beneficial to students regardless of their path after high school. The committee unanimously approved the bill.
“Whether our students are headed to one of our great colleges or universities, a valuable trade or apprenticeship program, the military or career in the arts, every single one of them deserves to be equipped with education and information on how to succeed and thrive financially in our society,” Busatta Cabrera said.
Rep. Matt Willhite supported the bill but told members that adding another required class would reduce the number of electives a student could take. Electives can help inspire a student to go down a certain career path, the Wellington Democrat said.
He suggested putting the financial literacy requirement in a class like algebra.
“I think that’s real-life experience math, versus some of these other classes,” Willhite said.
However, Busatta Cabrera told the committee that Florida would still be the state with the most high school elective credit slots even with her proposal.
Weston Democratic Rep. Robin Bartleman, an assistant principal and special education teacher by trade, noted Broward County already has a financial literacy requirement. She hoped the state’s class would include an online component.
“I think this would have been better for my daughter than taking PE online,” Bartleman said.
St. Cloud Republican Rep. Fred Hawkins recalled taking a similar course in high school and called the opportunity to have “make believe” experience in personal finance outstanding.
The measure is “definitely needed right now, as I think that too many people don’t worry about savings and debt and how that happens,” Hawkins said.
If approved, the financial literacy class requirement would apply starting with ninth-graders who enter high school in the 2022-23 school year.
The Senate version (SB 1054), carried by St. Augustine Republican Sen. Travis Hutson, has passed both of its committee stops and is ready for consideration on the Senate floor.
Following the bill’s hearing, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis issued a statement thanking the committee for advancing the bill and Busatta Cabrera for “setting students up for success in and out of the classroom.”
“Financial literacy is an important key to a strong financial future, and learning the basics of credit, budgeting, savings and investing can further prepare students for a successful future,” he said. “These lessons are also critical to training future generations of Americans to appreciate America’s capitalist system and grow our nation’s pool of entrepreneurs.”