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Gradebook

Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

With budget cuts looming, what about revenue increases?

Teachers are losing their jobs. Those who remain face pay cuts. Students might see their course options decrease.

It's happening because Florida school districts face budget shortfalls in the millions. But few want to look at the other side of the equation, that being increased revenues.

Not lawmakers, who rejected the idea of higher taxes out of hand. Not School Boards, who in many instances refused to levy a local option property tax to ease at least a portion of the burden. In Pasco County, where the board had a referendum to ask for permission to extend their local tax, voters rejected the request.

But then there's tiny Walton County, population somewhere south of 60,000, where 81 percent of voters on Tuesday approved a .5-mill property tax to bolster their school district coffers by about $5.6 million a year.

"It's huge for the school district in that I'm not at least taking a deep breath," superintendent Carlene Anderson told the Northwest Florida Daily News. "We still are taking cuts from the state in our funding, but they're minimal compared to the cut that we would have experienced through the half-mill loss."

In Colorado, meanwhile, a Democrat state senator is proposing small increases to state income and sales taxes to raise an additional $3 billion or so over five years for schools. Sen. Rolle Heath is trying to take the initiative to voters directly, saying his state is headed in the wrong direction with hefty education spending cuts.

Republicans don't support the effort, the AP reports, and they figure voters there will be opposed to new taxes in hard economic times.

Colorado has a revenue problem due to one simple fact: Families and businesses are having a revenue problem," Colorado Senate Republican leader Mike Kopp said in a statement.

Sure, public education is supposed to be offered free of charge. But government services don't pay for themselves. We've always heard that "you get what you pay for." What does it mean, then, if people aren't willing to pay?

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 6:30am]

    

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