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Details on the Senate's Pre-K-12 budget draft

A few noteworthy points from the Florida Senate's first subcommittee budget draft released Thursday:

  • Unlike the House estimates that came out Tuesday, the Senate numbers are based on the actual amount of money Senate leaders would like to set aside for education. Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, gave the subcommittee its allocation late Wednesday night. "The House budget doesn't have this kind of funding for Pre-K-12," said committee chairman Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs. "We have to understand that this requires sacrifices by other parts of the budget."
  • To bolster the education budget, the Senate proposes using $756 million from its general revenue pot. Those dollars would help plug the nearly $1 billion loss of federal stimulus funds for education.
  • Dollars for the state's voluntary pre-kindergarten program would get a 2.7 percent boost. The program had been an area where cuts had been talked about.
  • The funding for New World School of the Arts in downtown Miami, the only public school in the state to have its own budget line-item, would be slashed 28.3 percent under the preliminary Senate proposal -- less than in the House's earlier draft, which got rid of all the money.

Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, referred to the plan as "the best allocation out of any subcommittee."

"I'm afraid to see what the other budgets look like," she said.

Simmons cautioned that the budget could just be a high-water mark, since the Senate and House will eventually have to compromise on the final education funding.

"This is not the time to party," he said. "We know there are going to be challenges."