The Florida Legislature adjourned Sine Die in a fashion that seemed unusual to most people. In an unprecedented move, the House of Representatives decided on April 28th that they would not continue to negotiate with the Florida Senate regarding the budget. Unfortunately, for teachers, this seems like more business as usual.
For years, teachers in our public schools have experienced the affects of the legislature’s bad policy making practices, and neglecting the needs of our pubic schools. Educators are the architects of our future in Florida and lawmakers should be providing necessary resources to schools rather than diverting money to other interests. How can anyone be expected to offer a child the best education possible given funding levels that still do not equal or exceed per student funding from 2006-07?
This budget impasse is largely over yet another vital need of the people of Florida, and healthcare for the poorest Floridians hangs in the balance. The Senate strongly supported Medicaid expansion and funding of the Low Income Pool (LIP), as well as pressuring the federal government to release the funds for indigent care, all of which the House strongly opposes. Unfortunately, the impact of this fight may result in even more of a loss to funding for classrooms that are already lower than almost every state in the nation. The issue around healthcare is complicated, but it boils down to a $4.2 billion dollar difference between the Senate and House respective budgets. If lawmakers don’t take up the Florida Senate’s plan to secure Medicaid funding and the LIP, there will be more budget cuts, and ultimately, our public schools could suffer once again.
Now the Legislature has to come back to Tallahassee to conclude its only constitutionally mandated obligation–pass a balanced budget by June 30th. The bright side of this special session, if there is one, is that the legislators are home before returning to Tallahassee for the Special Session scheduled from June 1st – June 20th. You can visit them in their local office and tell them that they need to do what is right on healthcare, and do what is right for our schools. Urge your legislator to take up the Florida Senate’s plan to secure Medicaid funding and the Low Income Pool (LIP.) The legislature began this year with a significant budget surplus and lawmakers need to use that money to invest in the future of Florida by improving funding for our schools.
Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders and workforce. EVERY child deserves a bright future. Visit www.utd.org to find out who your lawmaker is, and how to contact them.
United Teachers of Dade is a union of professionals who work to advance the cause of public education. We educate students, empower our members, and work with parents and the community to build a stronger Miami.