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Senate hikes schools cuts

by Dara Kam | March 21st, 2011

From The Orlando Sentinel’s Aaron Deslatte:

TALLAHASSEE — Last week, Senate PreK-12 Education Budget Chairman David Simmons said the chamber’s classroom spending plan was essentially break-even for school districts.

That is, per-pupil student funding wouldn’t see much of a cut, at all.

But on Monday, Simmons reported back to his committee with fresh marching orders from Senate Budget Chairman J.D. Alexander, and the new budget math adds up to a $6.5 percent cut for classrooms, equal to about $1 billion.

That’s much closer to the 10 percent cut recommended by Gov. Rick Scott last month.

Sort of.

Actually, the Senate’s education budget proposal released Monday now assumes that the state and school districts will stop financing all of teachers’ pension contributions. In past years, that state and local contribution to the Florida Retirement System for teachers’ pensions was one piece of the education formula and showed up in how the state calculated that it was paying $6,811 per-student.

But with the assumption teachers will be forced to take some type of payroll deduction for retirement, some $739 million has been removed from the Senate’s school-aid formula — and the per-pupil amount is cut to $6,364 in the Senate proposal.

The move caught the eye of several senators on the PreK-12 Education Appropriations Committee Monday, who will be asked to pass a formal education budget out on Thursday.

“I’m very perplexed by this number,” said Sen. Jeremy Ring, the Margate Democrat working on the pension bill.

Ring suggested the total $739 million removed from the formula sounded higher than the level of contribution senators would like to see teachers start paying. The Senate has eyed a contribution rate for public employees of around 2 percent, while Scott has pushed for 5 percent.

‘To walk in and see this, it’s eye opening,” Ring said.

Ring called it an “elephant in the room” and said he’s be hard-pressed to vote for an education budget on Thursday ”that contains that type of FRS contribution.”

Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, said he was worried how school districts would “spin” the number, since it appears on paper to be less money going to education when it’s really not.

“What we all want to avoid is the bumper sticker that says ‘You’ve balanced your budget on the backs of teachers,’” said Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice.

Simmons said he literally had been given the numbers half an hour before his committee meeting started, and he didn’t want to speculate on how firm they were or whether they meant Senate leadership was banking on a 5 percent payroll deduction for public employees.

“Remember what we’re doing here. It’s not going to effect the operating expenses of districts,” Simmons said. “Are we talking about effecting the income of employees? Absolutely. But it’s important to remember haw this fits within the formula.”

The Senate education plan also contemplates raising $273 million fewer school dollars through local property taxes, a reflection of the declining real estate values.

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10 Responses to “Senate hikes schools cuts”

  1. marraige made in hell Says:

  2. BobinBoynton Says:

    Trust me: “If it effects the Teachers, IT WILL EFFECT THE STUDENTS!” YOu can’t take money from an employee and expect the same level of dedication back from them especially when they have not been involved in any part of the decision making process. The DOE pisses away so much money on unnecessary materials, books, staff, etc. and then wants to stick it to the front line workers. They need to involve the front line people and they could save more money and have complete buy in by their employees.
    You need to either invest in education or invest in law enforcement. Poor education will lead to increased crime!
    Obama says we need to invest in education and our childrens futures but yet when it gets to the State level it is screw education and the children that go with it.

  3. Thomas Says:

    There are 15 millions people in Florida and our republican led state government will try to pin the states defecit on about 900,000 public servants, which is mostly teachers, fireman, and police. So much for equal representation, Who they gonna go after next year when they still have to make up for shortages. This will be a long four years under Scott and his toadies.

  4. Kevin Says:

    Republicans have chanted the same mantra over and over again for years with tragic results every time. Cut taxes, cut services, bust unions and blame the democrats. Florida has been run by the republicans for at least the past 12 years and in that time we have managed to be the worst performer at just about everything the government has traditionally been tasked to do for its people. That’s no surprise though, because when you don’t believe in government (which republicans do not) you do whatever you can to see to it that it fails. Now Gov Scott and his republican goons are going to solve the problems at DCF made public in the Baharona case. They will fix DCF’s problems by drastically cutting their budget. Now that’s a plan to fix things if I ever heard one. If you work for the DCF you better quit your job. You are being set up to fail on purpose, children will die as a result of this tactic and you will be held criminally responsible for their deaths. GET OUT NOW!!!!!

  5. Vance Scheer Says:

    Tell Bobbi, it is affect the students not effect the students…
    Tell Thomas, it is who are they going to go after not who they gonna…
    Tell Kevin, I agree with him.

  6. Ms Vicky Says:

    Follow the money, my friends! Every legislator has to list his or her contributors. It’s the sunshine law, and It is ALL online. Stop feeding the businesses that are working against us. That is the ONLY thing that will stop these barbarians. They don’t care about people, and they know just how to play us against each other as they rob us of our peace of mind and dignity.
    Beat them at their game!

  7. The slient ones Says:

    If this affects teachers just think what it will do to paraprofeesionals who make very little money. Our children should come first. How can Rick Scott sleep at night? Your hurting the ones who educate our children. Maybe some of them try to pin the states defecit on about 900,000 public servants, which is mostly teachers, fireman, and police. So much for Education Rick Scott.

  8. Rod Says:

    I don’t see the Legislature or the Governor taking a cut in pay. When this country was started, you were not paid to be in the Legislature if I remember correctly.

  9. Susan Says:

    Where I can I get one of those bumper stickers? That is exactly what Scott intends to do. And all this double talk about money here and cuts there – it’s all the same thing – He’s trying to take our retirement folks!Worse case scenario, he gets re-elected and next term takes it all!

  10. Yuridad Says:

    There is something fishy about the economics here that has bothered me from the beginning of all this calling “public workers” a new four-letter word.
    That fishy idea that you can’t tax the rich at a level equal to what we down here get taxed, and yes, the public workers of Florida get taxed and taxed well, thank you, and expect to solve the economic problems of the state. Any economics major would tell you that if you tax 100,000 rich making a million a year–a number pulled out of my well-worn 10 year old Rays’ hat ’cause I can’t afford another remembering I’m a ‘public worker’ hat–at 28%–which I’m getting taxed at because I make enough, just enough to qualify for that rate–wouldn’t that be $28,000,000,000 tax dollars? Now, instead, lets tax 100,000 workers making $55,000 a year at the same rate…lets see that’s $1,540,000,000 tax dollars, roughly 19% of the amount of the taxes to the rich (and remember, I kept it at only 28%, and at $1 million. Whew! You’d have to admit, it’s an education. Wait! Education? That would mean that all these Senators and Congressmen (and Scott too) would have to get an education in economics and that would mean–heaven forbid–learning from a..a..TEACHER! Awk!

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