Facing Budget Cuts

Florida lawmakers are about to get an earful from local school officials. All sixty-seven districts as well as teachers across the state are gearing up for a full frontal assault on plans to make dramatic cuts. Many are still holding out hope there will be some new revenue in what is looking like a bleak state budget.

Friday's traditional hankie drop ending the legislative session was more like a white flag of surrender for the senate president. When lawmakers come back for a special budget session next week, the senate is dropping all plans to raise new revenue.

With no new money, the budget on the table will mean drastic cuts for every school district in the state. Florida School Board’s Executive Director Wayne Blanton says lawmakers will be getting visits from local board members this week.

"We are not going to be able to hire new teachers, we are putting a freeze on hiring and there is going to be a public outcry,” he states.

"Florida teachers are organizing an email campaign telling lawmakers that if they want kids to be able to read, they need to put there money where their mouth is."

One of the talking points being complained about is that, "they are taking a hundred million dollars from the summer school program, yet they are requiring summer school so again it doesn't seem to make sense, it clearly doesn't add up."

House education policy chair Bev Kilmer says, in the end, a compromise will emerge that will take some of the edge off what appears to be a bleak picture.

"We are doing everything that we can to make sure that all of the districts receive the money that they need to do the job that we are asking them to do which is teach our children,” she says.

But, educators are skeptical and they hope an ensuing public outcry will force lawmakers to look at new revenues, including a second look at video lottery terminals. There is one bright spot in the budget dilemma for average citizens. With the senate backing down on new revenue, there will be no push to double traffic fines to balance the budget.


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