Tallahassee, Florida -- March 22, 2011 2:03pm --
Budget writers in the Senate increased the amount they want to cut from Pre-K-12 funding to 6.57 percent, a drop of $447.25 in per-student from the current year’s budget. Senate budget writers had previously suggested a slimmer cut of 2.28 percent, or $155.67 per student. Education budget chairman Sen. David Simmons, R-Longwood, said the difference is due to $739 million in expected required contributions by teachers and other school administrators and employees to their pensions. Because Florida Retirement System contributions were used in calculating the per-student funding amount in previous years, the per-student spending has been adjusted to reflect a decrease in state spending towards employee retirement. But Simmons acknowledged that the $739 million figure was not firm, and could be adjusted as proposals to require employee contributions to FRS make their way through the Legislature. The Senate education budget brings them much closer in line with the House of Representatives, which is considering a per-student cut of 7.7 percent, or a drop of $524.50 per student. Gov. Rick Scott had suggested an even more austere 10 percent cut to per-student funding. The Senate expects to pass a Pre-K-12 Education budget on Thursday, while the House of Representatives also moves toward finalizing its schools budget with an appropriations meeting on Tuesday.