Democratic legislators have a plan that could help save Florida billions of dollars in coming years. But they can't even get their idea heard.
The issue is preventing teen pregnancy — a fact of life that cost Florida taxpayers $8.1 billion in services and health care costs between 1991 and 2004.
Democrats are proposing requiring public schools that currently teach abstinence-only education to switch to comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education. Studies have shown such curriculums don't increase teens' sexual activity, but do increase the likelihood that they'll use contraception if they are sexually active.
Republicans, however, seem to have no interest. The Healthy Teens Act (SB 220 / HB 265) hasn't received a single committee hearing, just a political press release last week from the Republican Party of Florida labeling it "The Sex, Drugs and School of Rock Act."
Such flippancy ignores reality. In Florida in 2007, 15,776 babies were born to mothers 18 or younger, the largest number since the beginning of this decade. Those families, and all Floridians, will carry the responsibility for those childhood pregnancies for years.