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Scott Calls For Draconian Cuts To Education

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TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) – Florida Governor Rick Scott’s newly unveiled budget for the coming fiscal year saw the newly-elected governor propose almost $5 billion in cuts to the state budget.

But, when it came to which department lost the most money under Governor Scott’s new budget, no agency came close the cuts proposed to education.

According to Scott’s budget proposal, education spending will be slashed by $3.3 billion in the 2011-2012 fiscal year. In addition, a total of 92 positions will be eliminated under the Scott budget.

For comparison sake, the education budget cut is greater than the cuts for every other state agency combined ($3.3 billion vs. $3 billion).

Broward Schools superintendent Jim Notter, like many Florida educators, is giving failing marks to Governor Scott’s first proposed budget.

“When Katrina hit New Orleans, nobody ever thought the levees would break,” Notter said. “I would tell you this superintendent is afraid his levees may break.”

Notter figures the proposed education funding cuts could cost his district up to $300 million.

“You have to cut reading coaches, math coaches, science coaches (in schools),” Notter said. Notter indicated support teams and extracurricular activities would be jeopardized as well.

Scott argues that planned savings in the pension system, also meeting strong objections from teachers and other state workers, would make up any direct shortfall in education funding. He called his budget the first “jobs budget.”

Notter disagrees and said Scott is putting at risk his campaign promise to create 700,000 jobs over seven years.

“Companies are not going to move here,” Notter said. “Companies are not going to expand unless they have a quality education system for their children and a quality education system for their workforce.”

All educational levels would take a hit under Scott’s plan. Overall, per student funding would take a roughly $300 cut, according to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald.

The number of positions eliminated in education are not as bad as many other departments at the state level. The Department of Corrections is set to lose 1,690 positions and the Department of Children and Family Services will lose 1,849 positions.

All total, Governor Scott’s budget calls to eliminate more than 8,500 state jobs in the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

But, Scott’s budget proposal is just that, a proposal.

Now, it’s up to state lawmakers to turn those proposals into budget reality, and the battles over priorities have only just begun.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service Of Florida contributed to this report.)

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