Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Seeks to Restore Funding for Education

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Seeks to Restore Funding for Education

Article excerpt

Lottery money has never been spent the way most Floridians

expected it to be. But that will change if a citizens group has

its way.

The Coalition to Reclaim Education's Share has taken the first

step toward placing a constitutional amendment on the 1998

general election ballot that seeks to restore education funding

to pre-lottery levels.

The coalition has turned in 75,000 petitions to the secretary

of state calling upon the Legislature to adequately fund public

education by spending at least 40 percent of the state's annual

appropriations, excluding federal funds and lottery proceeds, on

education.

The coalition based that figure on the percentage of state

appropriations education received in fiscal 1986-87, the year

before the lottery began.

The lottery ostensibly was created to enhance public education,

not as a substitute funding source, as it has been used by the

Legislature.

Andy Ford, president of Duval Teachers United, a local teachers

union, said the coalition is seeking to preserve education

funding.

"We want to make sure the lottery is used for enhancement as it

was meant to be," he said.

If the secretary of state verifies that at least 50,000

signatures are from registered voters, the coalition can

petition the Florida Supreme Court to determine whether the

language in the proposed amendment meets the test to qualify for

the ballot.

"If the court approves the language, we have to come back and

get another 400,000 signatures," Ford said.

The coalition has the backing of the Florida Education

Association United, Florida Teaching Profession and the Florida

Superintendents Association.

The coalition collected the 75,000 signatures over the past two

weeks. Coalition members collected many of those signatures

outside the polls during last Tuesday's general election.

Posters urging voters to sign the petitions said, "Let's stop

cheating our children. …

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