As we begin the New Year, Florida’s budget situation continues to look bleak. In January, there is going to be a special session to find a way to bridge a $1.1 billion dollar shortfall. This $1.1 billion is in addition to the 4% general revenue hold already applied. This means that in education takes its equal share of general revenue as a percentage cut of the total, it would amount to $400 million as a cut.
In the 2009-2010 school year, the state is looking at an additional $2.5 billion dollar shortfall. Also, it is believed that there is over $1 billion in “mandatory” spending required over the reduced budget to meet constitutional or federal requirements. This makes the budget short $3.5 billion. Additionally, local property taxes are expected to waver causing a $600 million in revenue cuts for public education.
Looking toward the positive possibilities, the Senate has shown a willingness to discuss developing new revenues to increase the budget size for the 2009-2010 school year. This would prevent the reduction in budgetary cuts.
As working professionals, we need to contact our legislators. Let them know that you are aware of the current financial crisis. Ask them to fight for ALL education funding programs. Encourage them to protect the rights under the constitution and keep an appropriate level of funding for education. Let them know you are willing to pay your fair share of taxes in order to support educational funding.
The full memberships for these committees can be found at the following links:
The House K-12 Appropriations Committee will chaired by Anitere Flores (R – Miami). http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Committees/committeesdetail.aspx?SessionId=61&CommitteeId=2447
The Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee will be chaired again by Senator Steve Wise (R – Jacksonville):
Calling Your Legislator
Ø Know or learn about your legislator. If you do not know them look at the online guide.
Ø Learn about the process. Being aware of what the legislator’s job is makes it easier for you to communicate and work with them.
Ø Plan your call carefully. Keep to the point and discuss only one issue. Organize your thoughts ahead of time and make notes to help you stay on track.
Ø Prepare a one-page fact sheet concerning your issue to give to your legislator upon their request (email). This will help him or her better retain what you present.
Ø Don’t be afraid to suggest a course of action and offer assistance. Do not ever threaten.
Ø Be polite. At times, you may not agree with them but for them to listen they must respect you.