Going over potential cuts to education, Rep. David Simmons asserted Wednesday that the GOP-controlled Legislature has been too rigid in how it has interpreted the class size amendment passed by voters in 2002. Simmons, a Maitland Republican and attorney, disagreed with the reading of the amendment that it mandates that each individual classroom in Florida must meet class caps by 2010.
Simmons argued that ensuring that the average class size in Florida meets the amendment requirements would be enough to satisfy the constitutional requirement. He said that by doing that lawmakers would not have to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars in the next few years in order to meet the amendment requirement.
"I think maybe the constitution did provide for more flexibility than we initially thought,'' said Simmons, who said looking at the amendment this way could save school districts and the Legislature "angst" over where to get the money for class size.
If lawmakers were to adopt this viewpoint, it would be quite a turn-around for Republicans. Gov. Jeb Bush famously declared that the amendment would "block" and "blot out the sun" due to its initial huge cost estimates.