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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida House budget leaders look to cut spending, including in education



Florida's public education system could see millions of dollars of funding reduced in the coming year, under scenarios put forth Tuesday by the state House Appropriations Committee.

Citing flat revenue this year, with anticipated declines in the coming two years, chairman Rep. Carlos Trujillo asked members to go through a budget cutting exercise aimed at maintaining a balanced budget that focuses on statewide needs.

"The approach should really be, does this affect the entire state," Trujillo said, suggesting that member-driven local projects should receive close scrutiny.

He also called for a close look at past programs that might have been worthwhile once but perhaps have become obsolete. Money spent on one area makes it difficult to meet the bottom line, he noted.

The House also has set a goal of reducing local school property taxes, while the Senate has remained more open to allowing districts to keep their tax rates stable in order to maintain level funding.

If the rates decline, school district officials have said enrollment growth could force them into more budget cutting.

To get spending in line with anticipated revenue, Trujillo presented two sets of targets, one more aggressive than the other. The "easy" one asks House members to find cuts of $164.8 million in recurring and $68 million in nonrecurring PreK-12 revenue, and $106 million recurring and $38.8 million nonrecurring higher ed revenue.

The tougher assumptions would more than double the reduction targets. See the committee packet for more details.

The committee is expected to discuss its ideas when it meets Feb. 13.

[Last modified: Tuesday, January 10, 2017 3:41pm]


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