breaking news

Dolphins respond to Donald Trump with protest during national anthem

Property tax debate looms for Florida education budget


The House and Senate made opening bids Tuesday on boosting public-school spending, with the Senate unveiling a proposal to increase per-student funding by roughly 10 times what the House is offering.

But the upper chamber’s heftier increase is built in large part on allowing local property taxes to increase with property values, something that is a non-starter for the House and could become a major sticking point as lawmakers attempt to wrap up the annual legislative session by its scheduled May 5 conclusion.

The proposal from Sen. David Simmons, an Altamonte Springs Republican who chairs the Senate’s education budget-writing subcommittee, would boost per-student spending by 2.9 percent, or almost $210 a head, in the budget year that will begin July 1. But about $191 of that would come from local property taxes, which are part of the state’s school-funding formula.

RELATED: Complete Florida Legislature coverage

Meeting with his subcommittee Tuesday morning, and perhaps anticipating the House’s reaction, Simmons brushed away criticisms that accounting for the increased property values’ effect on taxes amounted to a hike. He pointed out that the tax rate would not change.

“We’ve kept that at the same (level) and believe that keeping the millage rate the same is not a tax increase,” Simmons said.

In building the budget for the current spending year, which ends June 30, lawmakers lowered the state’s portion of the property tax rate for schools to essentially offset any increase in property values for education. Gov. Rick Scott and others touted the change as a tax cut, because the tax rate fell, although it kept the actual taxes collected at the same amount.

House leaders have repeatedly said this year that they will not allow property-tax bills to go up because of rising values.

As a result, the House education proposal unveiled late Monday would provide a 0.3 percent spending increase, or roughly $19 a student. Another $509.8 million would be devoted to rolling back the tax rate so that property taxes would stay flat.

Asked whether there might be room to negotiate, Simmons’ House counterpart pointed to something House Speaker Richard Corcoran told a reporter for the Tallahassee bureau shared by the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald.

“I think the speaker was quoted as saying ‘hell no’ on raising taxes, so I’m just going to defer to his quote,” said Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah.

There are other issues and initiatives that divide the two chambers. For example, the House is working on a proposal that would spend $200 million to attract charter schools to areas where public schools have repeatedly received low marks on state report cards.

The legislation, though, is still being developed.

“The idea would be to bring in charter schools that specifically have been successful and have a track record at dealing with poverty-stricken areas, with generational poverty and low-performing students, (to districts) where the public schools have failed for more than five years and up to 10,” Diaz said.

Meanwhile, the Senate would eliminate the Best and Brightest teacher bonus program, a House priority in previous years. The House plan, accounting for proposals to expand eligibility for the bonuses, would add a net of $165 million.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Trump continues to blast NFL players who won’t stand for national anthem
Trump continues to blast NFL players who won’t stand for national anthem

President Donald Trump and Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling during the national anthem last year to protest “a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” President Donald Trump, who in a Friday speech said he wished NFL owners would fire players who don’t stand for the national...
After Irma: Palm Beach’s weeklong shutdown challenged, defended
After Irma: Palm Beach’s weeklong shutdown challenged, defended

Looking to restock his refrigerator three days after Hurricane Irma tore through Palm Beach County, attorney Richard Ryles headed to the Publix in Palm Beach. But, like scores of mainland residents discovered in the aftermath of the storm, the wealthy island was off-limits to nearly everyone who didn’t live or work in the tony town...
Aronberg: Fix Obamacare so unethical sober homes don’t exploit opioid crisis
Aronberg: Fix Obamacare so unethical sober homes don’t exploit opioid crisis

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg in 2016. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post) Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg says in a Time magazine op-ed that unscrupulous drug treatment providers have manipulated Obamacare “to foster a cycle of relapse, rather than recovery” and...
Starbucks exec Howard Schultz sure sounds like a 2020 presidential candidate
Starbucks exec Howard Schultz sure sounds like a 2020 presidential candidate

Since announcing in December that he would step down as Starbucks chief executive, there has been speculation that Howard Schultz is eyeing a run for president in 2020. A couple weeks back, I pegged him as the businessperson most likely to win the Democratic nomination.  Well, Howard Schultz sure sounds like a candidate.  Schultz spoke with...
Former Obama officials form group to combat Trump rollback of consumer protections in higher ed
Former Obama officials form group to combat Trump rollback of consumer protections in higher ed

A cadre of attorneys and policy advisers from the Obama administration is teaming up to do what they say Education Secretary Betsy DeVos seems incapable of doing: protecting students.  They have formed a coalition, called the National Student Legal Defense Network, that will partner with state attorneys general and advocacy groups to combat what...
More Stories