Loopholes and unfunded mandates
With the likelihood of new money coming to Florida schools virtually nil, FSBA executive director Wayne Blanton has other ideas for school boards to pursue in freeing up resources for the coming year.
Today, Blanton urged the Pasco School Board to press lawmakers to eliminate some tax loopholes that could free up millions for schools. He mentioned specifically reinstating the inventory tax on huge business owners, and the 10-cent per alcoholic beverage tax that restaurants and bars once charged.
He predicted a fight with some business and industry groups, but "that's a fight we're willing to take on to put hundreds of millions back into the budget for public education."
Blanton also suggested that board members ask for a reduction in existing unfunded mandates, so districts have fewer restrictions on the money they do have. He promoted the idea of a statewide, four-year 1 percent sales tax for education. And he called for a continued delay in implementing the class-size reduction amendment at the classroom level, saying the state cannot afford it.
"We have got to have some relief," he told the Pasco board, whose members nodded in agreement. "I'm a native Floridian, and I always go by the philosophy shoot the gator closest to the boat. ... Long-range planning right now in Tallahassee is an oxymoron."