Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Legislative update



On Monday, the Governor announced his education proposals for the upcoming Legislative session. He will ask legislators to approve a $22.7 billion education budget, representing a 2.6 percent increase per student from this year. This would restore K-12 funding to the 2007 level. Such an increase might also raise Florida's expenditures for education up from around the lowest in the country to almost average.


To accomplish this, the Governor seeks to hold class size accountability to the school level rather than the classroom level. He again asked the Legislature to approve the gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to help generate state revenue. He also described the state's participation in Race to the Top as "visionary."


See the full press release at


The governor's proposal was praised across the state by superintendents and school board members. Historically, however, such budget proposals have not been acted upon by the Legislature.


Senate President Jeff Atwater described the Governor's proposal as "rather optimistic" and expressed skepticism that a state budget could be passed without more layoffs. Even less enthusiastic was House Speaker Larry Cretul's description of the three forces shaping the budget—the Governor, the House, and the Senate—as being "three tropical depressions" colliding to create a perfect storm.


St. Petersburg Times:


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The President has indicated that he intends to freeze most discretionary spending, although many education programs such as Pell Grants and the Race to the Top grants appear to be exempted from the proposed freeze. In fact, with the ESEA reauthorization looming in the background, the total federal education budget has been targeted for a $4 billion increase, despite the freezes being considered in other non-defense areas. Tonight's State of the Union address (and the resulting discussions and clarifications over the next several days) may make this clearer.




It now also appears that the President will propose consolidation of 38 federal K-12 grant programs into 11, and recommend the elimination of 6 others altogether.


Washington Post:


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Many educators are wondering and worrying about what will happen next with the ESEA reauthorization, and it seems that, for now at least, Secretary Duncan is guiding the discussions. Craig Cunningham over at Education Policy Blog has provided an interesting and insightful profile of Duncan and his first year in office—and what we might expect next.


Education Policy Blog:


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