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With $1 billion more for schools, education conferees hand keys to budget bosses

by John Kennedy | April 22nd, 2013

Budget conferees working on education — the biggest-ticket item in the state’s $74-billion-plus spending plan — effectively abandoned efforts late Monday toward reaching a final agreement.

The House’s push for 6 percent college and university tuition increases, and the Senate’s demand that state scholarship programs including Bright Futures funding avoid any cuts were among a handful of areas dividing House and Senate negotiators.

Public school funding does look generally on track to receive slighly more than a $1 billion funding increase next fall. Gov. Rick Scott had sought a $1.2 billion increase, that had initially been matched by the Senate.

“We made a good faith effort…and I thought we could get there,” said Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, the House’s lead negotiator on schools, after a final round of talks yielded no overall agreement late Monday.

Scott and the Senate are rejecting any talk of tuition increases. And the House earlier reduced its 6 percent demand to 4 percent — only to ratchet its tuition proposal back up to 6 percent in its final offer as it sought agreement in other education areas.

Fresen’s counterpart, Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said the two sides had settled plenty of lesser matters. But big policy differences still divide lawmakers.

Next stop: Budget chairs, Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, will take a stab at the work for a few days, beginning tomorrow evening. They’ll have a chance to rope into their deal-making a wide range of spending differences in environmental, economic development and health and human service programs.

Lawmakers have to button-up the budget by early next week for the session to conclude on time, May 3.

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2 Responses to “With $1 billion more for schools, education conferees hand keys to budget bosses”

  1. whasup Says:

    This education thing, with its higher ed tuition component, will come down to talk among the three most powerful pols in Florida: the Gov., the Senate Prez, and the House Speaker. At the end of the day, I figure the Gov. will privately say: “Go ahead and send me a law that requires tuition increases” … so he can veto that and try to gain some potential reelection votes.

    Of course, the Gov. and his peeps really do believe that they can attract votes from folks who he’s already pissed off. Don’t care how much money he’ll spend, that’s an illusion being sold him by campaign profiteers.

  2. GOP Says:

    Rick Scott is a big jerk. As a member of the GOP, I can’t wait to vote against him. If I have to choose between two opportunists, I choose Charlie Crist. He’s a lot nicer too.

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