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Change for Change

March 18th, 2009 by flanews

More than a thousand parents, teachers, and students rallied on the steps of the state capitol today. The group is asking lawmakers to eliminate tax exemptions, raise the cigarette tax and pass a temporary one cent sales tax to fund schools. As Whitney Ray tells us, the group brought 2.6 million pennies with them to support their call for change.

They came by the bus load, bringing boxes, buckets, and bags full of pennies. Parents, teachers, and students unloaded 2.6 million pennies near the capitol, one for every student in the state.

The group rallied in support of a temporary one cent sales tax increase to fund schools. Education funding has fallen four billion dollars over the last two years and lawmakers could vote to cut more. For many the rally is a last ditch effort to save jobs at their schools.

Polly Roper is the principal at an Orange County Elementary School. She has to cut 900,000 dollars from her budget.

Its horrible. Im looking at people who have been at my school 25 and 30 years who are going to get cut because I might have to cut all my classified people, said Roper.

Florida Education Association President Andy Ford said changing the states tax structure cant wait.

Not next year, not next session. Not after the next election. Not sometime in the future, but now, said Ford.

But while the crowd cheered on new taxes for schools, legislative leader dont seem poised to join in on the celebration. The 26,000 dollars worth of pennies are being donated to the Childrens Home Fund, a charity helping underprivileged youth.

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