TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Gov. Rick Scott's proposed budget for education would definitely result in teacher layoffs next year, according to the Florida School Boards Association.
Scott proposes cutting education by $3.3 billion next year to help make up a deficit in the state budget.
On Tuesday, members of a House education committee had some tough questions for Scott's education policy coordinator. Lawmakers don't like the governor's proposed cut in per pupil spending which would drop about $300 to $6,600 per student.
A cut of that magnitude would mean teacher layoffs, said Wayne Blanton of the School Boards Association.
"The governor's budget would definitely translate into layoffs throughout school systems in Florida. There's no way around that so obviously that's one of our major concerns. That is not a way to keep the job market stable when you start laying people off."
Rep. Geraldine Thompson said she's shocked by the proposed cuts since education has already seen budget cuts in recent years as a result of the bad economy.
"I am shocked because education has taken a lot of cuts since we have been in the decline and I think we need to be looking at some of the tax exemptions that we give and if we eliminated some of those we'd have the money to be able to find education appropriately."
The Hillsborough County School District alone is facing a cut of more than $100 million under the proposal.
But Hillsborough Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia said it's still early in the budget-crafting process.
"I think we all have to understand the difficulties that we're all facing in the state of Florida economically...what we need to do is just make sure that we can keep the best education system going in Florida and be able to weather this very difficult time economically."
Florida's education budget has been propped up in recent years by federal stimulus money, but now that cash is gone and Gov. Scott is choosing not to replace it. His proposal keeps state funding at about the same level, but overall, it would reduce the education budget more than $3 billion.
Scott said he's trying to ensure schools get as much funding as possible.
"We're doing everything we can to make sure that we have as much funding as we can for the schools and just like every other individual in this state and every family in this state and every business in this state, everybody's got to figure out how to do more with less. I believe our schools will do a good job."
First Coast News