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Pressure Rises On Gov. Scott To Veto Education Budget

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In Miami-Dade County on Tuesday, calls escalated for Governor Rick Scott to trash an education budget that critics say trashes public schools and students.

“We budget what we value,” said Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, addressing the Florida Board of Education meeting in Miami.

Carvalho was speaking for every superintendent in the state, and told the board the school budget passed by the legislature devalues public schools and students.

Carvalho said an increase in state funding per student of $24 is the lowest it’s been in ten years, and with inflation amounts to a funding cut.

“Are we in the middle of a recession?  I think the answer is an overwhelming no,” Carvalho told the board.  “The state began its deliberations over the budget with a $3 billion surplus.”

Critics slam an education plan that siphons offs hundreds of millions for private charter schools, hands out bonuses to teachers based on what detractors call flawed standards, and would make for cuts even in basic reading, writing and ‘rithmetic curriculum, according to Carvalho.

“We cannot make decisions that endanger the quality of education in our community, because the next victim is the economic viability of our work force,” said Carvalho, noting that the greatest impact of the budget comes in poor counties, Miami-Dade among them, with 70 percent of its students living in poverty.

Governor Scott hasn’t ruled out vetoing all or part of the school budget – the entire state budget for that matter – angry with fellow Republicans who rejected much of what he wanted.

Some Board of Education members worried about cuts to schools in some counties and cuts to college funding.  The board can’t control the budget.

Members were generally vague in their responses to reporters’ questions about whether they believe the governor should veto all or part of the school budget.  The members are appointed by the governor, and critics could claim political partisanship if they appear to publicly support his criticism of the legislature.

Republican Speaker of The House, Richard Corcoran, told CBS4’s Jim Defede in an interview Tuesday that a veto of school funding would be foolish.

“To veto the education portion would mean, to say we need to put more into it, would mean we’d have to rob from reserves which would give us, in coming years, deficits,” Corcoran said.

Opponents say hogwash, that the state is awash in surplus.

“This is about people, this is about your children,” said Miami-Dade School Board Chairman Larry Feldman. “It is about their ability to be successful, to go into the world with the skill sets they need to have a great life.”

The governor has not yet been formally presented with the state budget.  When he gets it, he’ll have fifteen days to sign it, veto it, veto parts of it, or allow it to become law without his signature.

Should the governor veto the entire budget or education budget, the legislature would have to convene in special session by June 30th to either sustain or override the veto.

The budgets originally passed both houses by well over the two thirds majority that would be necessary to override.

More from Gary Nelson
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