Florida's "cliff" not so steep as in other states, Gov. Crist says
Crist doesn't discount that schools will feel the pain when the money runs out. But he says that by spreading out the spending rather than using all the money immediately, lawmakers mitigated that pain:
"As of August 28, Florida has begun to use about $1.3 billion in available funds. These funds are responsible for preserving the jobs of approximately 20,000 educators. The number of students affected by these teachers could fill all of Florida's major football stadiums combined. This is great news for Florida. The speed of expenditures from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund for educational services is not an indicator of success, but instead the depth of a state's financial problems. Some states faced such urgent crises that they have used the majority of these funds to fill funding gaps.
Showing great prudence and foresight, we took a different approach. Your appropriations committees spread these funds over the next two school years, providing a much more stable fiscal environment for Florida's schools and our schoolchildren. Florida's strategy means the effects will be further in the future and less deep and dramatic than some states will face. While we will face future decisions when the stimulus funds are not available, our transition will be much more quickly manageable than for those states who were forced to exhaust their funds more quickly."
See Crist's letter to Senate President Atwater and House Speaker Cretul for more details.