Growing Miami-Dade’s Public Education Money Requires Bipartisanship in Tallahassee

Javier Fernández
Javier Fernández, State Representative for District 114

Lost in recent discussions about education has been the abysmal record of both Governor Scott and our Republican-controlled Legislature in meeting their constitutional obligation to adequately fund public schools.

Since 2008, Florida’s feeble financing for public education means our Sunshine State ranked 49th out of 50 states (ahead of Arizona), when adjusted for inflation. Over that time and during the administration of Governor Scott, funding for public education has declined by 20%, after accounting for inflation. Our teachers have been impacted directly by these quality-of-life busting funding reductions. Teachers earn about $5,000 less in real dollars today than they did 20 years ago, making worse the teacher retention crisis. In the end, it is our children who suffer as both teachers and parents scramble to backfill the resource gap.

Compounding the already abysmal funding situation were modifications made to the state funding formula in 2004-2005 that have severely disadvantaged Miami-Dade and other large, urban school districts. Since the formula change, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) has lost about $1.5 billion of state funding. As a result, state funding as a share of the MDCPS’ annual budget has declined from over 70% to about 50% of total revenue in the current budget.  The best evidence of the negative impact of the shift of the funding burden to local Miami-Dade taxpayers is the Nov. 6th referendum to boost teacher pay locally through a supplemental tax assessment. 

During the 2019 legislative session, Miami-Dade will have a once in a generation opportunity to correct the current imbalance. Both the Speaker of the House Designate, Rep. Jose Oliva and Minority Leader Designate, Rep. Kionne McGhee are from this community and a substantial portion of the members in the Florida House of Representatives will hail from South Florida, which is most disadvantaged by the state’s current funding formula. Partisan and policy differences should be set-aside for the common goal of increasing the resources made available to all of Florida’s children and, in particular, those from urban counties like Miami-Dade.

We must and should do better by our community and its children.  It is my sincere hope that in this next legislative session, we will. 

Click here to contact Javier.

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