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.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rick Scott’s Proposed School Budget Cuts- “Oh, the Horror of It”

As I dig deeper into what Governor Rick Scott has put out as his budget for the upcoming year, I see a very stern budget that forces fiscal austerity, and I kind of like that.  At a time when at the national level we are borrowing money from China and Saudi Arabia to give away to places like Eritrea, Pakistan, and  Egypt, I hardly think Rick Scott should be lambasted for doing something fiscally responsible for Florida.    I think it is GOOD for us to go from $70 Billion down to $65 Billion as a proposed budget—if $65 Billion  is all we have to spend.  Going to $63 Billion in 2012 is smart if all we have to spend in 2012 will be $63 Billion.  You see, I don’t like finding ways to spend more than I bring in.  I don’t like trying to find justifications, rationalizations and equivocations for spending more than I have in hand.   I like balanced budgets.   It’s kind of like how responsible families have to live within their means and not spend more than they take in.   And I hope the “so called” leaders of both parties at the national level are paying close attention to what Florida is doing.  These sorts of deep cuts need to be made at the Federal level as well—from ALL departments! And if Scott can pull this off while at the same time inducing more businesses to come to Florida by lowering tax burdens and providing property tax cuts for middle class Floridians—this will be unbelievable!

But as it pertains to education in Florida, let’s look at what Rick Scott is proposing.  I’ve seen some estimates that predict the education cuts will be $3-$4.8 Billion for this year.  Okay, yes, this is a huge cut.   Assuming the actual decrease (after the legislature gets through with Scott’s proposal) will be somewhere in the midrange, this equates to about $350 per student less than last year.  To read some accounts from some statewide officials (mostly union spokesmen and school board and superintendent lobby groups), you would likely think this budget will be dismantling education limb by limb.  The horror, the audacity, of such a proposal!  And the union minions are parroting the same old, tired refrain that “We’ll be funded lower per student than 49 out of 50 states”.  The union apparently has not  got the memo that that the notion of “ funding schools more equals better achievement”  is simply a myth. It’s a myth that Florida continues to debunk every year along with states like Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota and others—yet places like New York, D.C.  And California keep spending more and attaining less.  And nobody challenges these union activists on their skewed  statistics and incorrect assertions-it becomes quite annoying.  But  back to Florida’s education  budget for 2011--  I read one estimate that said the cut could equate to districts being..and get ready for this….[Insert:drumroll] forced to operate at funding levels equivalent to the 2005 budget year.  2005!!!  Unbelievable!  Unacceptable!  Irresponsible!  Reckless!  All of these criticisms heaped upon this proposed budget because government funded agencies (schools) will have to operate at 2005 funding levels!!
I don’t know about all the whining, complaining, masses that are entering apoplectic grand mal convulsions  about this—but I can still vividly remember 2005-it wasn’t that long ago.  I remember it just like it was yesterday actually and I wasn’t selling apples from a cart and living in a cave by candlelight in 2005.   I’m not currently either (selling apples from a cart), and won’t be even if this budget goes through just as it’s laid out.  Matter of fact, I lived in the same house in 2005 that I do now, only then it was worth about $50K more than it’s worth today.  I had several different income streams then, just as I do now, and (imagine this) I was making more money in 2005 than I am today!  WoW!  Unbelievable, right!   Yeah, and true to boot.  The value of my business interests in 2005 was roughly 30% higher than it is now,  and my net worth was roughly  40% more in 2005 than it is today. 
I suspect many in the private sector (non-government employees, small business owners, real estate investors, etc.) have witnessed similar income and asset value declines in the last 6 year period.  Realistically, the only people who could even possibly think the last few years were anything but disastrous would probably be either

A. self-employed, financially self-sufficient, non-mortgaged real estate owning individuals who happen to invest in commodities and precious metals


B. State or Federal Government Agency  Employees,

Everyone else over the last few years has been feeling the crush of lower wages, diminished property values, lower business revenues, and depleted savings/retirement  accounts.   
Despite this economic morass - government agencies still expect their revenue and salaries to keep going up and up and up, even when taxpayers  do not have the resources to fund continued increases. This is ridiculous.  Some of these Bureaucrats think the answer is raising tax rates on the property of the private sector  so that their budgets can continue to escalate!  The idea that it is alright to raise tax rates for this purpose is a disgusting, outrageous  slap in the face to the hard working Floridians that have been suffering for years.  Now it’s time for the government agencies to join the rest of us and do more with less.   Newton said it, and it’s true—what goes up, must come down . This is contraction-we are in it.  And the angst, gnashing of teeth, and gloom and doom predictions among some government bureaucrats (and their masters the unions and special interests)  are hard for normal people to hear.  It is downright insulting because normal people (not the A. or B. types above)  have been dealing with less for years now. 
Some of these proposed cuts will trickle down and affect the lowest paid government employees-and this is regrettable.  But spending must be curbed, and these cuts will affect everyone, not simply the poor.  The flip side, silver lining is that more companies in Florida will equal more jobs, more jobs equals more spending, more spending will equal more sales tax and other collections for the state so that we can bring in more money and get our entire economy back on track the right way. A rising tide raises ALL boats, and cutting spending will raise the tide.  This will help create a better Florida in the long run for our Children and Grandchildren, and a sacrifice today for them tomorrow is worth it!
Nobody purposely wants to cut peoples’ incomes.  This economy is not some sinister, diabolical creation by rich people wanting to see us suffer.  This bad economy is real and government cannot spend its way out of this.  Like the character, Cowboy, in Full Metal Jacket stated when his platoon faced a gut wrenching decision—“We can’t refuse to accept the situation”.   Our schools will continue to operate, busses will run, meals will be served, employees will still have jobs---we’ll get through-- and “this too shall pass”.


Anonymous said...

Nicely done!

Jeff Bergosh said...

Thanks Anonymous-It gets kind of tired always hearing people complain about the budget. We're all going to have to cut, period, just as those in the private sector have been doing for years now...