A bill seeking to allow advertising on public school buses won broad support from the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee on Thursday.
The ad revenue would help cash-strapped school districts bolster their budgets.
“It is estimated that we could raise $2 million in Orange County alone,” said Rep. Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka, who sponsored the measure with Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton.
The advertisements could not promote the use of tobacco, alcohol or drugs, or be political or misleading in nature. What's more, individual School Boards would be able to exercise discretion over the content.
“If they think there is something that is inappropriate, they can not accept that advertising,” Nelson said.
The bill passed by a vote of 12-2.
Opposing the proposal: Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami, and Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland.
“There is a danger of over-commercialization,” Bileca said after the meeting. “School should be a sanctuary, a safe haven for children.”
The school bus bill made it out of the House K-20 Competitiveness Subcommittee by a vote of 13-0 last month. It is awaiting a hearing by the House Education Committee.
A similar bill from Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, passed the Senate Education Committee by a 4-2 vote earlier this week. That bill is now headed to the Senate Committee on Transportation.
The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee Thursday also heard a presentation on Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed budget, which adds $1 billion to education.
Some members took issue with Scott’s suggestion to replace $16 million in funding for some mentoring, school improvement and college readiness programs with $12.2 million in competitive grants. If the provision is adopted, programs that previously received funding would have to to compete for dollars.
Asked Kiar: “So the governor wants programs that help children with disabilities like Best Buddies and the Boys and Girls Club compete against each other for funding?”
Staffers for the governor defended the idea, saying the competition would be based on measurable outcomes.