Florida lawmakers have $1.6 billion less to spend on education this year than last, according to a preliminary glimpse of the Senate’s education spending plan.
The shortfall comes from the disappearance of one-time $880 million federal stimulus funds used last year plus a reduction in property tax collections due to a decline in assessed values.
Senate K-12 education budget committee chairman David Simmons handed out spreadsheets to his committee and told them to be ready to do some serious cutting when they meet again on Thursday.
“For anybody who sees this do not have a heart attack yet,” cautioned Simmons, R-Maitland, who pointed out that lawmakers still have $554 million in federal “Education Jobs” grants leftover that school districts were supposed to have held onto from last year.
And the $1.6 billion hold “does not reflect any kind of “beg allocation,” Simmons said. “That’s where we’re going to beg for an additional allocation for education.”
Simmons drew attention to a single item on the $22 billion public education spending spreadsheet: public broadcasting.