School spending headed in one direction: Southby John Kennedy | March 22nd, 2011
House Democrats doing the math on the public school budget proposal unveiled Tuesday by ruling Republicans released a short list of “lowlights.”
Per-pupil spending would decline $473 next fall — to $6,327; the lowest level since 2005-06, Democrats said. Overall spending on schools also would drop $1.1 billion, under the House plan, advanced by the PreK-12 budget subcommittee.
The House’s almost 7 percent per-student cut emerged just a day after the Senate unveiled its own proposal which includes a 6.5 percent reduction. With Gov. Rick Scott having earlier recommended a 10 percent cut, the direction classroom spending is headed is becoming pretty clear even in this early stage of budget work.
Lawmakers managed to stave-off deeper school cuts the past three years, with the help of billions of dollars in stimulus cash from Washington. Last year, alone, $2.5 billion poured into the state treasury — money that has now dried up, leaving a gaping hole.
House Republicans countered, saying Pre-K spending still commands the most state cash in an otherwise lousy year.
““The depth of the budget shortfall is tremendous and every area is likely to see cuts,” said Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami. “The House budget prioritizes education, with K-12 education receiving the greatest percentage of the general revenue allocation.”