Florida Legislature builds a “House of cards”…

Florida Legislature builds a “House of cards”…   

No one wins next, especially not students and schools

party-bosses-smoke-filled-roomsFriday, May 5th, 2017 was the scheduled last day of the 2017 Florida Legislative session.  Going into the Friday it was reported earlier during the day that the budget was not getting done fast enough and so both the Florida Senate and the House mutually agreed to extend session for the budget only until Monday, May 8th, 2017.  The extended session was needed because until Friday at 2:37pm, no specifics were known about the budget.  What is referred to as a “budget conforming bill”.  The conforming language gives the details of the budget the who’s, how’s and what’s of the budget.  What we knew by Thursday was that for public education– $(27.07) less would be funding the Base Student Allocation (BSA).  That equates to about $(300,000) less in funding for Citrus County Schools than last year with more students and mandate than last year.  It appears this will be the first time in Florida’s history that the Legislature will reduce the BSA funding in a non-recession year.  As a result, it was widely reported on Thursday that Governor Rock Scott was seriously entertaining vetoing the State budget.  While extraordinary for the Governor to do, this had also become an unprecedented closed doors/behind the scenes developed State budget.

As bad as all of that, things were about to get worse…

20100717-200902-pic-28968874_6113399_ver1Friday evening both the Senate and House chambers were scrambling finalizing and passing legislation before the end of the session.  Some bills were good, some less so, and some mixed.  Then about 8:30pm, Friday evening something unexpected and unprecedented happen–  The Florida Speaker of the House and other Legislators procedurally rolled nearly all the educational bills this 2017 session, along with many controversial educational bills together into one enormous Education Conforming Bill – HB 7069.  Even many bills which had been amended to remove poor language had come back in this monstrous bill.  To give a perspective of the size and magnitude of this bill.  Think of any recent “train bill” as being a small model train placed next to a full-size train.  Politico is reporting, “Legislative leaders plan to tie nearly 600 pages of education policy to Monday’s budget vote”.

Why do this?

It appears that this was strategically planned in advance to make it near impossible for Legislators to amend the budget before it would be voted on Monday.  By doing this it means everything must pass or fail with now revisions.  While Legislative leaders have denied any political strategies in doing this, it seems to have also been planned to make it hard for the Governor to veto the budget without the entire Florida budget and bills collapsing on itself.

Is this representative governing?  Is this what we expect of our Legislative leaders?  This was to have been the most open and transparent legislative session in Florida history– instead it turned into one of the worst backdoor-secret deal making session in the history of Florida.

We can say, “we’ll remember this next election” but the truth today is if this passes for Florida and Florida’s students the damage will have been done.  Students and schools will suffer because of this legislative session.

We must wait until Monday to see where this all goes.  Please PLEASE contact our Florida Legislators NOW and tell them to fix this! To use any means available to stop this from taking place.

Follow these links to contact our State Senators and State Representatives.

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So far what we know is in the EDUCATION CONFORMING BILL – HB 7069

Comprehensive Education Conforming Bill Will Be Up for Final Passage on Monday  – All out effort to kill the bill!  Call your senator this weekend – this is a bad bill for districts and Local Governments

The bill is 278 pages including multiple changes to current law including –

  • Bad language redirecting Title I
  • Schools of Hope
  • Best and Brightest
  • Capital Outlay sharing with Charters
  • Pre-empts Local Governments from doing impact studies re: locating Charters.
  • Clarification of Cost Per Student Station Requirements
  • Exemption of Special Facility Construction Payback from Charter Capital funding
  • Language on 300 Lowest Performing Schools
  • Creation of Small Isolated Elementary School provision
  • Provisions relating to teacher bonuses
  • Updating language relating to Sparsity that has been used in past few years
  • Provision relating to use of Digital Classroom funding
  • Clarification of funding for Federally Connected Program


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