Editorial: State must fund better education

The Hillsborough County School Board passed a $34.8 million cut Tuesday night. Hillsborough is not the only county in the state slashing funding for education. The state Legislature will reconvene after Thanksgiving to settle a dispute over filling a $1 billion gap in the budget. All this leads to more overcrowded classrooms, reduced salaries for teachers and fewer extra-curricular programs. The money should come from some other source.

While education takes a cut, tourism receives a break. Florida depends heavily on tourism, and it apparently regards the money from the tourist industry as more important than the education of its permanent citizens.

Pushing students into more classes with fewer teachers is not the solution to the budget crisis. Funding for the subsidization of tourism can come from the tobacco awareness funds instead of sacrificing education. A redistribution of lottery money or taking more out of the money tourist attractions take in may be a solution; however, placing education at the bottom of the list of important things to fund sends out the message that Florida does not care about its citizens and their advancement.

The dependency on tourism and vacationers need not be such a major factor when planning the budget. It should be a perk at the end, an additional income after the budget has been planned.

When the Legislature makes the cuts to balance the budget for the next two to three years, education should not be on the cutting room floor.

There are better ways to turn a profit. Florida is 47th in the nation for school funding. There are 46 other states that do not necessarily have tourism; yet, they still manage to fund education. Florida needs to find out how to solve these financial problems and stay out of the 50th position in the nation.