Who is responsible For Funding Public Education?
The Florida Legislature is responsible for funding public education. Florida voters were so certain of the state’s “Paramount Duty” that they passed a ballot amendment to the state constitution to demand that the will of the people be respected and carried out by politicians elected to serve the people.
Article IX, Section 1, Florida Constitution
“The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education” – Article IX, Section 1, Florida Constitution
2011-2012 Budget – Mounting Drastic Cuts Amount to $4 Billion in 3 Years
The 2011 Budget, with its questionable and deep funding cuts, was harmful to students and their schools. Lawmakers slashed $1.35 Billion from public schools or $546 per student or 8% – the largest funding cut in Florida public education history. Instead of raising revenue, Florida legislators coerced districts into levying .25 mill in local property taxes in 2010-2011 followed by asking voters to pass a referendum continuing the same tax in 2011-2012. Districts that raised the .25 mill and increased property taxes have a way to soften the severe cuts. Districts that did not will face serious, painful cuts to instructional services that will hurt children directly in their classrooms.
In addition, teachers and staff will now pay 3% into the Florida Retirement System, amounting to a pay cut. Districts will not have to cover that 3%, so the Florida Legislature raised revenue by forcing Florida Educators who rank among some of the lowest paid in nation, to pay for benefits that had been used to get them to agree to low pay when they first accepted employment as teachers in Florida.
Florida’s 2011 budget sets public education funding levels back to 2003. The overall spending difference between 2011 and 2010 is $700 Million not $3.8 Billion. The budget hole and heavily-marketed crisis was not true. The cuts to public education were unwarranted, cruel and deliberate. Florida politicians left $4 Billion dollars on the table. This money was intended to help Florida’s children and improve their schools. It will never reach their classrooms. Instead, it will be hoarded and used by politicians to make them look better during the 2012 elections.
Governor Scott and Florida’s newly-elected politicians “got to work” but it wasn’t for children or their schools. Instead they took office to serve corporate testing conglomerates, virtual catalogue developers and for-profit charter management organizations.
- 2011 Legislative Summary (FSBA)
- Florida Education Finance Program (FSBA)
- How To Do The FEFP Math – School Boards and Property Taxes (FSBA)
- Passing the Buck: Two year Option To Raise Property Taxes, Bill Kaczor, Associate Press, Lakeland Ledger, July 22, 2009