House: No budget promises for next year
House Schools and Learning council chairman Joe Pickens, R-Palatka, today unveiled his chamber's proposal for education funding through the rest of this deficit-plagued budget year.
It would cut $265.3-million from preK-12 through June 30, but Pickens stressed that still leaves per student funding up by 4.53 percent ($308 per student) compared to last year. The original budget for the current year, passed before the state's revenue shortfalls, had per-student funding up by nearly 6 percent.
The proposal also would keep National Board certification bonuses at 10 percent, but teacher mentoring bonuses would fall to 5 percent (from the current 10 percent).
"I can't say that next year we'll be able to take the same tact if things don't improve" with the state economy," Pickens warned.
He also told the council that the plan is to "hold schools harmless" from the $138-million they're expected to lose from the recently passed Amendment 1.
"But it will not be possible to hold education harmless from the impacts of our economy," he said.
Adding to uncertainty, the House likely won't know the depth of needed budget cuts for 2008-09 until after session begins next month.
"That literally will be a game-time decision based on what revenues look like for February and March," he said.
Based on recent months' declines amounting to a $2-billion deficit, the prospects don't look good for schools and universities.