Senate schools budget counts on gambling cash; proposes sales tax hike
Sen. Steve Wise told his Appropriations Committee on Education Prek-12 that the school budget will remain the same as last year, relying on $208 million from the Seminole gaming compact and federal stimulus money in the 2009-10 budget to offset another round of deep cuts to schools.
Wise said Senate leaders are also considering a class size amendment that would be tied to a one-cent increase in the sales tax to offset the cost of lowering class size. "If we're going to put it on the ballot, we have to have a 75 percent vote in the House and the Senate. The question is, can we get it. If we do it in October or November it costs us $10 million to put it on the ballot.''
He said there are polls now being taken "as we speak" and they are looking at the data. "I haven't counted the votes and it's a political issue that the House and the Senate are talking about.''
The proposed $22 billion school budget also includes flexibility in other spending areas: districts may use $2.8 billion in class size reduction money for operations if they have already met the class size requirements and instructional materials purchases can be delayed.
"The proposed budget makes a 9 percent reduction in FEFP (the per student funding) which are then restored using federal stabilization funds and Indian gaming revenue,'' Wise said. "The total funds the school district receives is little or no reduction in appropriations.''