Budget conference: House, Senate move closer to education spending deal
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The chambers are inching closer to a final budget deal.

In late night budget talks, House and Senate leaders approached a final deal on education spending, with the House moving closer to the Senate on a series of pre-K-12 schools and higher education programs.

The House agreed to spend $100 million on grants to school districts aimed at getting them to set up career and technical education workforce development programs, which the Senate had in its initial budget.

But the House held firm at $20 million for the New Worlds Scholarship accounts, which promote early learning literacy.

The latest House offer includes $10 million for the Florida Civics Seal of Excellence, which pays teachers who complete a civics training program a $3,000 stipend. That amount is $4 million less than the House’s preference but $3 million more than what the Senate wanted.

The chambers have already agreed to the main funding formula for public schools but still need to put the finishing touches on the education budget.

In higher education, the House came to $50 million for the University of Florida’s Lastinger Center for Learning, an educational teaching center, which is closer to the Senate’s preference of $62.3 million. There’s also $9.1 million for the Community School Grant program, just short of the $10.6 million the Senate wanted.

The House also came to $5 million to expand a program providing scholarships to law enforcement officers, still just one-third of the $15 million the Senate wants.

The chambers need to reach an agreement by Tuesday on the final spending plan to meet the 72-hour “cooling off” period required by the state constitution before lawmakers can vote on the budget and end the Regular Session on its scheduled March 8 end date.

Although the chambers are close in many areas, they still need to find consensus on nearly all sectors of the budget, as well as the conforming and implementing bills that guide how the money is spent.

Gray Rohrer


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