The final week of the legislative session saw the passage of the only required piece of legislation each year: the state budget.
Governor Rick Scott signed the budget with only a handful of vetoes amid outcry from superintendents across the Tampa Bay Area that the 47 cents per student increase in funding for base student allocation was not enough to keep up with rising costs.
“47 cents would give Hillsborough County next year a little more than 100,000 more dollars to its budget,” said Superintendent Rick Eakins. “We have to pay Florida Retirement System increases, we have rising healthcare and utility costs and our employees need and deserve raises. All that is to say $100,000 only pays for the full salary of a teacher and a half, in a school district that has 15,000 teachers.”
Eakins also said the increase in funding for school security from the legislation passed weeks after the Parkland shooting is a positive move, but still won’t cover the district’s spending on school safety.
“We’ve been spending $16 million on security for our schools and we get $3.8 million for the safe schools allocation,” said Eakins. “There’s already a $12 million difference there. So the increase we’re going to get this year – which is very welcome – more than $9 million dollars, is still not going to meet the needs we have in this district.”
Sarasota Herald-Tribune education reporter Elizabeth Djinis and Creative Loafing reporter Kate Bradshaw joined us this weekend to talk more about the details of the budget. You can watch the full discussion in the video above from Politics On Your Side, WFLA News Channel 8’s political segment that airs every Sunday morning at 9:30.