FPI Staff
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August 15, 2018

Amendment 5 Would Make it Harder to Invest in Florida Students

Current per-pupil funding is below the pre-recession level, when accounting for inflation

LAKE MARY, FL – The disparity between Florida and other states in terms of per-pupil investment, teacher salaries and state capital investment could be made even worse under Amendment 5, according to a new policy brief by the nonpartisan Florida Policy Institute.

On November 6, voters in Florida will decide on a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment that would require a two-thirds (supermajority) vote of the state Legislature to raise state revenues, taxes and fees and eliminate tax breaks and loopholes. Amendment 5 is one of 13 measures that will be on the ballot.

The Institute surveyed the current landscape in Florida with respect to PreK-12 education and noted that the state is already underinvesting in students and teachers. Therefore, the Institute cautioned that the vote threshold under Amendment 5 would lock in special interest tax breaks and make it much harder for legislators to invest in the state’s future workforce.

The brief notes that, after adjusting for inflation:

  • Florida’s per-pupil investment in 2016 was 22.9 percent below the pre-recession level. Out of the 50 states, only Arizona, a state with a supermajority requirement, made deeper cuts during this time period.
  • Teacher pay in Florida has dropped more than any other state — 12.2 percent— since 2009.
  • Florida has cut state capital spending by 71 percent between 2008 and 2016.

Joseph F. Pennisi, executive director of the Institute, said: “This is clear evidence that the status quo in Florida needs to change, and fast. Lawmakers need to invest in education to provide economic opportunity and prepare students for success in the 21st century workforce. Neither of these things will be possible if lawmakers can’t raise revenue to improve conditions for children and families in Florida.”

Linda Kearschner, president of the Florida PTA, said: “The Florida PTA opposes any tax limitation by constitutional amendment which would limit the progress being made in attaining the state’s goal for education and for programs that promote the welfare of children and youth.”

Jared Nordlund, senior strategist for civic engagement at UnidosUS, said: “It’s time to put Florida’s children first when it comes to education and not Tallahassee lobbyists. Florida’s primary education goal must be that all students will be college and career ready by their high school graduation. The first step in achieving that is having the state’s share of education funding meet or exceed the national average so that school administrators are able to recruit and develop world-class teachers who will prepare Florida’s next generation of leaders.”

Melissa Erickson, executive director of the Alliance for Public Schools, said: “A thriving public education system is vital to Florida’s future. Our public schools educate Florida’s next generation of citizens and workforce of tomorrow. We find it alarming that Amendment 5 would restrict all future efforts to invest in public education and Florida’s economic growth. Lawmakers should be increasing resources for public schools as they grow Florida’s future.”

The Institute’s mission is to advance state policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.