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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

The 65 percent solution is back



The idea that school districts should spend 65 percent of their operating budgets on classroom expenditures is nothing new. It's come before the Legislature several times, most recently this year, and has moved nowhere. (HB 1463 by Rep. Robert Schenck didn't even get a hearing in the GOP dominated House. See also this Times story from 2005.)

That didn't stop the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission from deciding to send the proposal to voters. If approved, the matter would simply return to lawmakers, instructing them to do what they haven't done before.

"The issue is about convincing the public that money should be spent in the classroom," said Commissioner Greg Turbeville, a former Jeb Bush associate who sponsored the referendum. "This just sets a minimum threshold."

Commissioner Sandy D'Alemberte urged against passage, saying it would "further clutter up the constitution for no particular purpose." Commissioner Dan Gelber also spoke against the concept, calling it a "gimmick." The arguments did not persuade, though, as the measure passed 20-4.

UPDATE: The Buzz reports commissioners now intend to merge the voucher and 65 percent proposals. The latter will top the much more controversial former. Not restricted to single-issue referendums like voter initiatives are, the commission looks like it hopes to attract votes to the more popular spending proposal, perhaps cushioning the heated debate over vouchers.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:40am]


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