The House and Senate are just a few cents apart on agreeing to how much money school districts should get next year for each student -- though other issues remain for the two sides to hash out.
The House threw a curve ball in its budget offer Friday morning by saying it wants to keep districts from contracting outside lobbyists for more than $100,000 -- a move that led to surprised looks among the lobbying corps sitting in a Senate committee room.
"In tough times, you look at all areas of spending," said Rep. Marti Coley, R-Marianna and the House budget chief, though she admitted to not knowing how many districts spend that kind of cash on contract lobbyists (many have in-house lobbyists).
Originally, the two chambers had contemplated cutting per-pupil money an average of $463 in the House and $423 in the Senate. The Senate on Thursday proposed a $540.37 reduction after legislative leaders set aside less money than expected for schools.
(The actual cut is closer $83, the Senate says, taking into account factors including reforms to pensions for public employees.)
Friday morning, the House put forth a $539.85 cut to per-student funding, which is currently $6,810 a year.