Gaetz won't gamble on education budget
Gov. Charlie Crist's heavy reliance on new gambling revenue to boost education funding doesn't impress Senate Education chairman Don Gaetz, who tells the Gradebook he won't support that idea.
"I fear the bait and switch," said Gaetz, who was in Pasco County to talk about career education. "This is what we saw in the Florida lottery."
The lottery put billions into public education, he acknowledged. But it provided substitute funds rather than supplemental funds, he said, all because the Florida Legislature "drilled a hole in the bottom of the education bucket in 1988 and drained as much out of the bucket as was put in."
"I just think that if what I would call hard gambling becomes the new drug that our budget gets addicted to, we will form a dangerous addiction and there will be an eventual bait and switch," Gaetz said. "So I will vote against the expansion of gambling as a primary method of supporting education in the state."
He had additional worries about the governor's proposal, as well.
"My fear - and I'm not alone in this - is that the economy is not improving, that the revenue picture is darkening," Gaetz said. "So we may not be able to rely upon all the revenue estimates that the governor made any more than he can rely upon them if the economy continues to cloud."