Schools Likely Losers in Budget Fight

News out of Tallahassee Tuesday night says the House and Senate have reached an agreement on education spending levels. Reportedly, they have agreed to a modest 3% increase that puts school spending below 2002 funding levels. Governor Scott campaigned on investing in K-12 education and proposed a record high $7,175 per pupil funding in his budget earlier this year. However, his dreams of using a budget surplus for tax cuts, cheaper graduate school tuition and increased funding for schools have become victims of the contentious fight over healthcare.

But the surplus has largely vanished amid a tug-of-war over health care. Senate leaders pushed to steer money away from tax cuts to help replace federal aid for hospitals that is being lost this summer.

Scott, who is suing the federal government over the loss of the aid, had maintained that there was a way to change the state’s hospital funding formulas that would have preserved state money for other items. But his plan has been rejected because it would have resulted in millions in cuts to some of the state’s largest public hospitals in metro areas such as Miami.

House and Senate budget negotiators’ modest 3% increase in school funding is far below the Governor’s request. As of Tuesday evening, they are reportedly agreeing to a $7,097 per pupil allocation. Stay tuned for updates as the budget fight continues.

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