February 16, 2010

Florida's Budget and the State's Outlook: Education Spending

Full Appropriations Council on Education and Economic Development and the Full Appropriations Council on General Government and Health Care of the Florida House of Representatives
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In this testimony, senior research fellow Eileen Norcross advises the Florida congress on better courses of action regarding it's budget deficits, particularly in regard to education spending. As of today, the state of Florida faces a budget gap of at least $3 billion. Last year’s $66.5 billion budget was balanced through a combination of quick fixes, including $2.2 billion in tax hikes, $5 billion in federal stimulus dollars, and $1 billion in cuts. This year’s $69 billion proposed budget takes a flawed approach: Expanding spending by relying on uncertain stimulus funds, pushing Florida closer to what Scott Pattison of the National Association of State Budget Officers calls “the stimulus cliff.” When federal funds recede, unless Florida institutes meaningful spending reforms, budgetary gaps will reappear. The choices Florida’s government makes today are vital to Florida’s future.  

Norcross argues that effectively designed spending limits with competition in the provision of education will have the combined effect of increasing accountability in school spending, lowering costs, improving outcomes, and enhancing prosperity for Florida’s residents and economy.