Senate finance chair urges educators to lobby for funding
With their budgets on the line, Florida school district officials, educators and parents have been urging the lawmakers they know to protect public education. (Check out one mom's testimony to lawmakers, as reported in the Tallahassee Democrat.)
It looks like they're making some headway.
In an e-mail that quickly made the school district circuit Thursday, Senate Finance and Tax chairman Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, acknowledges plainly that "not enough has been done to protect the students of Florida and their educational interests."
Altman says Florida needs to overhaul its tax exemption structure and allow flexibility in school district spending so the state can "guarantee quality education now." But such changes require political will, he notes:
"Florida must rally the political support needed to rectify this issue. I ask for your help in this endeavor. I encourage you to write to your educational administrators. Write to other members of the legislature, and write to our Governor. I am confident that we can all work together to preserve the educational opportunities of Florida students."
To see the full e-mail, read on.
From: ALTMAN.THAD.WEB [mailto:ALTMAN.THAD.WEB@flsenate.gov]
Sent: Thursday, March 05, 2009 12:11 PM
To: Winn, Ken@Edgewood(Prin)
Subject: RE: Schools in Crisis
First, I would like to thank you for taking the time to write to me. I share your concerns regarding the education budget cuts. On this particular issue, I think we can both agree that not enough has been done to protect the students of Florida and their educational interests.
It is imperative that education is not only funded, but funded well. As Chairman of the Senate Finance and Tax Committee, I am striving to find revenue sources to fill this gap. Currently, we are evaluating existing tax exemptions so we may provide revenue to overcome the state budget shortfall. Not only will this update Florida's tax code, but it will help protect the most precious and invaluable resource we can impart on the next generation: education. I understand that in order to secure a skilled workforce and strong economy in Florida's future, we must guarantee quality education now. It is important that we protect Florida's quality of life for future generations.
In order to serve students, teachers and parents, we must provide core instruction and extracurricular enrichment activities. These are paramount to the Florida legislature's commitment to excellence in
education. By allowing appropriate flexibility for school district spending so that more dollars may be used on classroom instruction, we will solidify this commitment.
Florida must rally the political support needed to rectify this issue. I ask for your help in this endeavor. I encourage you to write to your educational administrators. Write to other members of the legislature,
and write to our Governor. I am confident that we can all work together to preserve the educational opportunities of Florida students.
Again, thank you for your interest and for reaching out to make sure education is properly funded. It is important that constituents, such as yourself, keep engaged. I appreciate your support on this important
issue. Should you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. It is an honor to serve as your State Senator.
State Senator District 24