The general sentiment rising within Florida's public education system over Sen. David Simmons' removal Tuesday as PreK-12 Appropriations chairman could be summed up in one word: "Sad."
But the Seminole County Republican, who has run the education budget in both the House and Senate during his Tallahassee tenure, said not to worry.
"I have the same love and passion for education. Nothing changes there," Simmons told the Gradebook. "I've been given another responsibility, which I'm going to, obviously, have a great opportunity doing those things, to deal with general government appropriations and all the water issues."
Simmons was named chairman of general government appropriations and placed on the environmental preservation and conservation committee. He was removed from education appropriations, but remains on the education policy committee and the overall appropriations committee.
"I plan to continue to be very involved in education issues," Simmons said. "They need not worry about any reduction in my passion to assist in the dealing with the issues of education appropriations or education policy. We're in good shape."
He said he would be involved in tackling concerns he had with HB 7069, which he raised during debate and afterward. Simmons was one of three Republicans to oppose the controversial measure, and continued to criticize portions of the plan relating to creating "Schools of Hope" into the summer.
"I'll be helping to deal with those issues and I look forward to dealing with them," Simmons said.
He would not characterize his removal from education appropriations as a penalty for sticking to principle.
"I have wonderful friends and colleagues in the Senate," Simmons said, when asked about that scenario.