May 3, 2017

State Legislative Funding for Public Schools Still Lags Levels From 10 Years Ago

This post was last updated on September 29, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

With less than one week remaining in the 2017 Legislative Session, many budget and policy decisions are unresolved. Funding for public schools is not one of those decisions. Once again, public schools are not winners in the state funding derby.

The Senate entered the budget negotiation process with a 3 percent increase per student for a total increase of almost $800 million. Of this increase, 95 percent was derived from local property taxes, based on increased property values. The Legislature provided state funding to offset a similar increase in 2016.

The Legislature has agreed to fund each student $24.49 higher than last year, an increase of less than one half of one percent (0.34 percent) over the current budget year. The approved per-student funding level of $7,221 for 2017-18 is lower than the $7,306 per student appropriated a decade ago in 2007. In the last 10 years costs have increased, making the reduced funding even more pronounced.

Legislators can no longer talk glibly about failing public schools. Without adequate funding, these policymakers doom public schools to failure. Legislators must step up and fund schools at a level that keeps pace with inflation, lest they be perceived as a driving impetus for the failure. Anything less undermines our children, our families, our businesses and our economy.

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