Preliminary Senate education budget: 2.3 percent cutby Dara Kam | March 17th, 2011
The Senate’s preliminary allocation for education spending is a 2.3 percent drop from last year’s, far less than Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed 10 percent and the House’s initial 7.7 percent cuts.
Senate Pre-K-12 Education Budget Committee Chairman David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, cautioned the committee that today’s figures – a $155.67 drop from last year’s $6,813.14 per-pupil spending – are just a starting point.
“It is subject to change. It is the kind of thing we’re going to have to hope that we can maintain but understand, and I cannot emphasize enough, that these are preliminary numbers,” Simmons said.
Under the Senate plan, public schools could fare even better, Simmons said, by adding back the $554 million in federal funds districts were supposed to have stashed and savings from changes in the state’s pension plan by requiring school district employees to contribute to their retirement.
“Roughly level funding for the Senate proposal – that is under these economic circumstances a significant statement as to the belief int he importance in the investment in education by Senate President Haridopolos and Sen. Alexander,” the senate budget chief, Simmons said.
Public broadcasting could get a 20.7 percent reduction, about $350,000 down from last year’s $7.5 million.
The drop in education spending comes in part from the loss of nearly $1 billion in one-time federal funds and a decrease in property tax collections. But budget chief J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, added back in more than $750 million from the state’s general revenue fund to make up the difference.
Lawmakers are facing at least a $3.62 billion budget deficit. State economists meet tomorrow to give an update on just how fall state revenues have fallen.