Education budget advances on party lines
No part of the House budget got more discussion Tuesday than the preK-12 portion, where appropriations chair Anitere Flores, R-Miami, touted lawmakers’ ability to keep per-student funding level, while Democrats complained about cuts to mentoring and teacher development programs.
“The fact is that we have less money. I don’t know how else to say it,” Flores said. “The fact that we’re not cutting per-student funding, I think, is a victory.”
Partisan bickering broke out over who to credit for meeting educators’ appeals to hold per-student funding harmless, with Republican leaders thanking each other, staff and the people of Florida, and Democrats thanking federal stimulus dollars and President Barack Obama.
Rep. Ron Saunders, D-Key West, put it bluntly, saying the stimulus “bailed our butts out.”
Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, chair of the House full appropriations council on education and economic development, challenged anyone voting no on the budget to come forward with alternative ideas.
“Put it on your personal letterhead. Own it. Be accountable,” Rivera said. “To vote no and not give those specifics before we go to the floor … I believe would be irresponsible and a dereliction of our duty.”
With that, the budget passed on a 14-8 party line vote.