I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Governor Rick Scott’s Proposed Budget— A $ 17.7 Million Cut to Escambia Schools?

"Bottom Line:  Assuming the property rolls remain relatively static at $15.1 Billion, our overall funding will be reduced this upcoming year by $17,791,464.00, or 10.54%.  "

Ever since the heavily anticipated release of Governor Rick Scott’s Budget this past week, people involved with Florida public education statewide have been studying it meticulously.  While many in the state are rightly concerned that this budget will have an enormous negative effect on schools, my personal belief continues to be that this initial draft was the “I’m going to get everyone’s attention”   version. 
After the legislators are done with it, I believe it will result in a 4-6% cut across the board for school districts around the state.  Is this a huge cut?—uh, well, yeah.  Is it the end of the world, though?  Of course not, and we will get through it.  But people are overreacting and getting all worked up before the final rendition is offered-- which makes little sense to me.  And I continue to believe that the Governor’s focus on fiscal austerity, while creating some discomfort in the short-term, will serve the state well over the long term.  (It’s just too bad lawmakers at the Federal Level don’t cut the spending like we are doing in Florida!)  Budgeting to spend no more than what is brought in is smart and is sound fiscal policy.  Doing it while simultaneously lowering property tax burdens on middle class Floridians and small business property owners is also a good idea.  Doing both of these things while at the same time lowering the tax burden on Large Corporations [READ: JOB CREATORS] completes the recovery trifecta.  These policies will stimulate hiring and economic development across the state, and making these hard decisions now will contribute to our state’s strong economic recovery in the years ahead. 
The Escambia School board discussed these budget issues at length today.  At this morning’s workshop, Terry St Cyr, director of the District’s finance department, unveiled how the Governor’s newly proposed budget (in its current form and assuming no further modifications) would impact our district’s budget for the upcoming year.  You can see the analysis here.  Again-this is the WORST CASE SCENARIO.
Bottom Line:  Assuming the property rolls remain relatively static at $15.1 Billion, our overall funding will be reduced this upcoming year by $17,791,464.00, or 10.54%.  Obviously this is a huge reduction—however, as previously stated, I do not believe the finalized reductions will be this steep.   We as a district have been extremely frugal with the taxpayer’s money these past few years as this budget crunch has worn on; we’ll be able to weather a steep cut this year, according to the staff at today’s meeting.   
The only ominous signal from today’s session-- Both the Superintendent and the Director of Finance stated, unequivocally,  that we could not take a steep cut 2 years in a row.  With Governor Scott projecting a budget of $63 Billion for 2012-13 ($2Billion less than for 2011-12) a cut of some sort will be coming for 2012-2013.  We just have to get through this year, continue to be intelligent in our spending, and keep looking for ways to be more efficient while maintaining our services to our students; it’s not getting easier...

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