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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

How much is $7-billion to Florida schools?



It's the figure that has education lobbyists worked up into a tizzy. Under the proposed "super-homestead exemption," $7-billion for education would be stripped from the tax rolls over four years.

So what does this mean? Nothing, if you believe Republican leaders who have pledged to hold schools harmless. So far, they haven't produced any details as to how, and Democratic critics are lining up. Getting into the nitty gritty, the Legislature has run figures for how much would come off the tax rolls for schools in each county. Check them out here: Download Schools.pdf

Remember these numbers are likely high. They show what would happen if every homeowner who benefited took advantage of the new tax structure. The real figures would likely be less, because many would choose to stay with their existing Save Our Homes benefits. And while $7-billion sounds like a huge sum, it's worth considering that the class size amendment alone is costing about $3.4-billion in the coming year. Overall, Florida is spending more than $20-billion on schools.

One last caveat: A drop in taxes doesn't equal the cut in education money to your county. Florida has a complicated school finance system that equalizes spending across the state. Property rich counties aren't always the student rich counties, so their property tax dollars pay for schools around Florida.

Are you worried? Do you think the Legislature will hold true to its pledge to replace the money? Sound off, and let us know.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:18am]


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