Florida House, Senate iron out budget differences, proviso language remains
Meeting for only the second time this session, the Florida House and Senate Pre-K-12 budget conferees have already concluded their negotiations on education funding for 2012-13.
"We may have made history," committee chairwoman Rep. Marti Coley said after the sides worked out the few line item differences they had. (See the first round of offers here.)
The biggest change came in support for public broadcasting. The House had recommended $3.99 million in funding, while the Senate included no funding at all.
"We have met you on public broadcasting," Senate chairman David Simmons reported. "We confirmed with the Governor's Office for their views on this issue. ... It is worth going ahead and go along with the House."
Simmons said the Senate also was willing to moderate its position on $15 million in funding for extended day and tutoring funding. He said the conferees were willing to set the funding for the 100 lowest performing elementary schools as identified in the state's school grading program, with an allowance that students earning Level 5 on FCAT reading could opt out of the extra hour of instruction.
The instruction also would be provided by a highly effective teacher, as the House members desired.
After a brief recess, the House members came back and accepted the Senate's offers. The conference committee planned to return to the table to discuss implementation and proviso language later Thursday evening.