Today's news -- February 1, 2017



Property taxes shoulder most of Scott's school increase* Gov. Rick Scott is hoping to pay for an $815 million boost in K-12 education spending by collecting more revenue from local property taxes, reviving an annual battle in Tallahassee over whether an increase in what’s called “required local effort” is considered a tax hike.  In announcing his proposed budget Tuesday, the GOP governor proposed spending $21 billion on K-12 education in 2017-18, a plan that would bring per-pupil funding to $7,421, a $216 increase over the current budget year. The total includes about $11.6 billion in state funding and $9.4 billion in local property tax dollars. That’s $257 million more from the state, a 2.3 percent increase, and $558 million more, or a 6.3 percent increase, from local property taxes. Scott argues it's not a tax increase because, as property values increase, the state can hold the tax rate flat and still generate more money. But members of the GOP-led Legislature, particularly those in the state House of Representatives, disagree. Instead, they’ve pushed to “roll back” the tax rate so the amount of money localities are contributing doesn’t increase from year to year. Scott’s budget plan includes $618 million in tax cuts, largely benefiting businesses. In the past, critics have assailed Scott for championing cuts in business taxes but collecting more from homeowners.

Here’s a copy of the full 362-page proposal:

Here are highlights of Gov. Rick Scott's proposed budget released by his office:

Here are FAQ's released by the governor's office about the proposed $83.4 billion budget:

To better recruit and retain quality teachers for Florida’s K-12 public schools, Gov. Rick Scott wants the state to spend $58 million in the next budget year on a handful of initiatives — and those don’t include a controversial teacher bonus plan that lawmakers, with Scott’s support, have advanced in recent years. “Teachers are key to preparing our future generations for great careers,” Scott said Tuesday when rolling out priorities of his 2017-18 budget proposal during a news conference in Tallahassee. “We have to make investments to recruit and retain the best educators in our classrooms.” Specifically, Scott proposes:

▪  $15 million to eliminate initial and renewal certification fees for teachers.

▪  $10 million for “a one-time hiring bonus for teachers testing in the top 10 percent of the Subject Area Examination in the subject they are teaching in the 2017-2018 school year”.

▪  $5 million to “increase the diversity of teachers in critical shortage and high-need areas”.

▪  $5.9 million to “recruit Bright Futures scholars that major in education and commit to 4 years of teaching following graduation in the rural districts from which they graduate high school”.

▪  $16 million for school districts to “implement targeted recruitment and retention initiatives that meet the district’s need”.

▪  And, $6 million to “reward great teachers in low-performing schools.”

Lawmakers will need to decide whether to include Scott’s recommendations when they formally craft and vote on next year’s budget in the upcoming legislative session, which begins in March.


Scott wants to replace "best and brightest" teacher bonuses


Scott proposes $83.5 billion state budget


Scott's budget wish list marks clear battle lines with House, Senate leaders


Scott’s $83.5 billion state budget goes heavy on tax holidays


Scott's vanilla budget


Public schools are among the best in the world*

Everyone knows U.S. public schools are failing. Just like everyone knows you should never wake sleepwalkers, bulls hate red and Napoleon was short. Wrong on all counts. Waking sleepwalkers will cause them no harm – in fact, they’re more likely to harm themselves while sleepwalking. Bulls are colorblind; they’re attracted to movement. And Napoleon was 5’7”, which was above average height for Frenchman during his lifetime. So why do we believe that American public schools are doing such a terrible job? Because far right policymakers have convinced us all that it’s true. It’s not. Let me repeat that in no uncertain terms – America’s public schools are NOT failing. They are among the best in the world. Really! Here’s why: the United States educates everyone. Most other countries do not. We have made a commitment to every single child regardless of what their parents can afford to pay, regardless of their access to transportation, regardless of whether they can afford uniforms, lunch or even if they have a home. Heck! We even provide education to children who are here illegally. That can’t be said of many countries with which we’re often compared – especially countries comparable to the U.S. in size or diversity. So from the get-go, we have an advantage over most of the world.

We define education differently. Though our laws are woefully backward, in practice we look at it as a right, not a privilege. And for a full 13 years (counting kindergarten) it’s a right for every child, not just some. But that’s not all! We also provide some of the highest quality education you can get in the world! We teach more, help more, achieve more and yet we are criticized more than any system in any country in the world.


Lawmaker revives push for dedicated capital funding source for charters


Gradebook podcast: Florida's need for better math, science education


Districts dispute report alleging federal funding is withheld from kids in charters (FEA mentioned)


Senate panel votes in favor of DeVos

A Senate panel on Tuesday narrowly voted in favor of President Trump’s nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, sending her nomination to the full Senate for final approval. All 12 Republicans on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions voted in favor of sending her nomination to the Senate floor, while all 11 Democrats voted against. Democrats immediately challenged the vote, arguing that since one of the Republicans -- Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah -- voted by proxy, his vote doesn’t count under committee rules, and the outcome was really an 11-11 tie. Republicans disagreed and then revoted with Hatch present — over the objections of Democrats, who said another vote could not happen without official notice. Again, the vote was 12-11. Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), made clear that they have not yet decided how they will vote on the floor, suggesting that DeVos’s confirmation is not yet assured. Democrats are seeking to block DeVos’s confirmation, but they must convince a handful of Republicans to break with the new president. DeVos is a Michigan billionaire and private school voucher advocate who has become one of Trump’s most controversial Cabinet picks. (Randi Weingarten quoted) (Lily Eskelsen García quoted)

Who did Betsy DeVos give money to in Florida? (know who gets bucks from a privatizer)


Fight over DeVos nomination has ties to Volusia School Board race (Andrew Spar quoted)


Why DeVos is the most polarizing education secretary nominee ever


Fighting school privatization and DeVos


Leaders of education committee go to war with each other before DeVos vote


Two GOP senators says they aren’t committed to voting for DeVos on Senate floor


DeVos copied lines from outside sources, failed to cite them in answers to Senate


Study: Vouchers enable discrimination and segregation

Research led by an Indiana University professor confirms what school voucher critics have long argued: Voucher programs receive public funding yet discriminate on the basis of religion, disability status, sexual orientation and possibly other factors. The finding is especially timely as President Donald Trump and his designee to serve as secretary of education, Michigan school-choice activist Betsy DeVos, have indicated they will use federal clout and money to push states to expand voucher programs. “At the time we did the study, we had no idea it would be so relevant,” said Suzanne Eckes, professor in the IU School of Education and the lead author of the research paper. “People are starting to think about these questions, and the topic has not been widely addressed in research.”


How Massachusetts’ teachers defeated a charter school expansion


At L.A. charter school, teachers saw a clash between scarcity and extravagance


An “America first” presidency clashes with higher ed’s world view


Former ABA head warns of possible danger from constitutional panel


Florida senators to consider unanimous juries in death cases


Florida high court: Limits on lawyers' fees unconstitutional


Scott seeks money to combat Zika


Corcoran found “cockroaches” in Scott's jobs, tourism programs


Florida may require licensing for kayaks, canoes, paddle boards


Trump picks Colorado appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court (Lily Eskelsen García quoted) (Randi Weingarten quoted)


In Gorsuch, an echo of Scalia in philosophy and style


Gorsuch on labor issues


Gorsuch, the nominee for a stolen seat


Where Gorsuch would fit on the Supreme Court


Key decisions from Gorsuch


A fractured U.S. Senate awaits Gorsuch


Picking one justice, Trump has eye on choosing a second


With the stroke of a pen, Trump may have sparked an American brain drain


Trump has created a constitutional crisis


Trump’s firing of the acting attorney general sets a dangerous precedent


Sessions once praised Yates for the trait that got her fired


Wasserman Schultz says acting attorney general was just doing job\\


Spicer signals getting fired for dissent “comes with the job” in Trump era


State Department dissent cable on Trump’s ban draws 1,000 signatures


Resistance from within: Federal workers push back against Trump


Trump’s horrifying executive order on refugees and visas


Only a third of Americans think Trump's travel ban will make them safer


More people were affected by travel ban than Trump initially said


Trump’s immigration order could affect thousands of college students


Ph.D. candidate at USF went to care for mother, now stuck in Iran


Trump's order strands FSU student in Iran (Matthew Lata quoted)


Iraq refugees in Seattle have message for Trump: “Please think again”


Ban is a matter of life and death for some, including a 1-year-old with cancer


Unable to enter U.S., and still stranded abroad


Waiting, on edge, for a refugee family’s arrival


How Trump has taken away our homes


Border Patrol agents made Muslims cancel visas, new lawsuit claims


A chronicle of fear: seven days as a Muslim immigrant in America


Trump’s war on immigration is a war on science and our prosperity


Ryan stands by Trump’s executive order, breaking days of silence


Rick Scott backs Trump on immigration


Trump names acting immigration enforcement chief


Spicer tells the media to stop using Trump’s own words to describe his policies


Administration circulates more immigration restrictions, focusing on protecting jobs


Trump orders renew tension with intelligence community


A government on edge and in the dark


Trump’s nightmare: women opposing him


Republicans push anti-protester laws to shut down demonstrations


The NRA has been moonlighting as an anti-immigration group for years


GOP introduces national right-to-work legislation


Workers at Trump’s D.C. hotel vote to join union, casting spotlight on conflicts


Nearly 50 arrested on Capitol Hill demanding answers on Obamacare repeal


Talk of repeal sends people running to, and from, Affordable Care Act


“Negotiator” Trump caves to big pharma


Water could soon be unaffordable for millions of Americans


What it’s like to work for Trump’s labor pick: chaos and danger


Labor nominee Puzder’s confirmation hearing delayed a fourth time


Democrats block confirmation votes for Sessions, Price and Mnuchin


Hatch: We'll give boycotting Democrats “more time” before we change rules


Democrats portray Sessions as yes man for Trump


Treasury secretary nominee's foreign money links bring new scrutiny


Will some members of Trump’s Cabinet realize they’re being used?


Everything you want to know about the Trump Cabinet confirmation hearings, votes


GOP senator: “Entirely inappropriate” for Bannon to have seat at NSC


Bannon’s long love affair with war


Trump’s army secretary pick could trade one potential conflict for another


Trump aide’s deal with Chinese firm raises fear of tangled interests


Trump’s not draining the swamp, he’s filling it


Trump’s White House is in chaos. And he loves it.


Matt Gaetz drafts bill to “completely abolish” the EPA


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