Providing a quality education to all of Florida’s students is a core constitutional responsibility of state government and critical to economic growth. Adequate state funding for education provides the foundation for students to compete in an ever-changing economy, and it helps to attract highly qualified teachers and maintain the equity and fairness of Florida’s education system.
On November 6, Florida voters will decide on Amendment 5, which would make generating resources to meet the needs of Florida’s schools and students much harder. The measure wouldrequire a two-thirds (supermajority) vote of the state Legislature to approve any new state revenues, taxes and fees, or to eliminate tax incentives, loopholes and other such expenditures.
Florida currently has the wrong priorities, giving special tax breaks to big corporations while spending less on public education than 48 other states. Amendment 5 would lock in these failed priorities before the state has a chance to recover from deep cuts following the Great Recession and a supermajority requirement would likely require huge funding cuts in the wake of another fiscal crisis. Amendment 5 would unnecessarily restrict investments in Florida’s future.
In the wake of the Great Recession, many states cut education funding dramatically after state and local revenues plummeted. While many states have rebounded, Florida’s investment per-pupil remains 22.9 percent beneath pre-recession levels, after adjusting for inflation. State and local combined funds for Florida’s primary and secondary (PreK-12) education dropped $2,767 per pupil from 2008 to 2016, inflation adjusted.By this measure, only Arizona is worse than Florida in terms of cuts per-pupil since 2008 (see Figure 1). The proposed supermajority threshold within Amendment 5 would lock into place deep state funding cuts for K-12, forcing local school districts to make cuts in teacher positions, programs or services, or ask local communities to increase their property taxes.