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Passing the Buck

March 26th, 2009 by flanews

A plan to provide funding for education through a penny sales tax increase while weakening class size requirements is shaking up state budget negotiations. The education funding amendment would need voter approval, but as Whitney Ray tells us, the Governor says he doubts voters will get a chance to decide.

The clock is ticking for schools to meet class size requirements. It will cost millions to hire enough teachers and build new classrooms to meet the requirements. Education lobbyists say it can be done.

That has a price tag of almost 900 million dollars; thats a third of a cent of sales tax and when you look at it in on that basis obviously you cant do that without a major increase, said Palm Beach County Legislative Director Vern Crawford.

Senator Stephen Wise is proposing a constitutional amendment to increase the sales tax to fund education.

Weve heard the message from the people of Florida and the teachers that we need additional revenue, said Wise.

Wise wants to couple a penny sales tax hike with a reduction in the class size requirements. Republicans have been pushing weaker standards; Democrats want to increase revenue.

While supporters call the plan a compromise, others say this is simply a chance for lawmakers to pass the buck.

If passed the amendment would go to the voters this fall, but lawmakers could pass the measures before May. House Democrat Marty Kiar calls his colleagues across the aisle chicken.

They are so afraid of their reelection campaigns and thats why I believe they are trying to put it to the voters but they could do it themselves. I just think some of them need to grow some guts, said Kiar.

When asked if he agreed with Kiar, Governor Crist said.

Im not going to bite on that, said Crist.

A penny sales tax increase could raise 2.8 billion dollars a year for schools. If approved it would go into affect in January and generate 1.4 billion dollars for this next years budget.

Posted in Charlie Crist, Education, Legislature, State Budget, State News, Taxes | No Comments »

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