Time to make education Florida's highest budget priority, State Board vice chairman Martinez says
Florida appears unlikely to see its revenue increase in big ways for years to come. That means state leaders will have to make even more tough decisions in setting spending priorities for the coming years.
State Board of Education vice chairman Roberto Martinez says education should come first.
"Some people are not going to be happy. And some services are not going to be funded. But we have to make those tough choices," Martinez told the Gradebook. "Unfortunately, we have the balanced budget requirement in Florida. But otherwise we're going to get into the mess we're in federally. We can't be all things to all people. So we have to make some tough decisions. And my opinion is education is the highest priority. Regardless of what I think, the people, in the constitution, have made it the paramount duty of the state to adequately fund a high quality education. ... It's a constitutional mandate to be met by the elected officials."
Martinez has organized a budget workshop for 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Tampa Airport Marriott to kick off what he considers a long-needed discussion about how to make this priority a reality. Several prominent speakers, including Hillsborough superintendent MaryEllen Elia and Miami-Dade College president Eduardo Padron, are on the agenda to give their input.
We'll be there to cover the event, which also is scheduled to be webcast. Let us know if you'd like us to Tweet updates from there, too.
And visit the Gradebook at noon on Saturday for a more complete interview with Martinez about his goals and objectives.