House budget ties school funding to controversial HB 7055 education train bill

House budget ties school funding to controversial HB 7055 education train bill

7055There is a train (bill) whistle again blowing this legislative session. The bill is Florida House Bill 7055 and is simply named, “Education”.  It has rolled up over 32 separate other educational bills and has grown to 198 pages.  HB 7055 takes up a broad spectrum of educational law, including but not limited to; revises provisions relating to Commissioner of Education, Department of Education, school districts, school district superintendents, statewide, standardized assessments, charter schools, educational scholarship programs, teacher union certifications, principal autonomy pilot program initiative, college dual enrollment, FLVS, and private schools.

Like last year’s education train bill, this year’s HB 7055 is being understandably criticized for not meeting the single subject law as defined in Article III, section 6, of the Florida Constitution, provides in part: “SECTION 6. Laws. – Every law shall embrace but one subject and matter properly connected therewith….”

Florida PTA and Florida Education Association are just some of the groups with concerns over HB 7055.  The Tampa Bay Times Grade book reported recently, “Florida HB 7055 comes under attack in ads…” (CLICK HERE to read story.)

What is perhaps most concerning to me currently, is that the Florida House budget makes Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) funding contingent upon passage of HB 7055. Why is this such a big deal? The FEFP is the education funding and how school district’s general funds are funded.  In fact, the Florida Department of Education states, “the FEFP is the primary mechanism for funding the operating costs of Florida school districts”. So, if the FEFP isn’t funded then our school district and schools have no funding to operate.

The apparent reason for the Florida House to make education funding contingent on the passage of HB 7055 seems to be that HB 7055 is the House’s educational priority.  Last Florida legislative session the Florida House was successful in passing their educational train bill and it appears they hope to be again.  By tying the educational funding to HB 7055 it also makes it harder for the Governor to veto the bill or the budget line item.

This manner of governing and passing of legislation in this way is concerning. Amendments are filed and inserted into the bill and are hard to know what impact they may have as they were not individually debated on their own merits.  An example of this was in last year’s education train bill, one sentence was added that negatively impact graduation rates and alternative graduation programs in our high schools. (read ThomasTalks blog dated 12/28/2017)

Not everything in HB 7055 is bad, and by far not everything is good.  What needs to happen first is to remove the contingency of the House budget to HB 7055. That can be done by simply striking the House Budget sentence that states, “Funds in Specific Appropriation 92 are contingent upon CS/HB 7055 or similar legislation becoming law”.  HB 7055 as it reads now should not be voted into law. Time is running out this legislative session.  Sub-committees are adorning for the session, essentially killing most bills that have not been heard.

Contact legislative representatives and share with the specifics of how these potential education laws will impact your student and your lives if they are passed.

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