Martinez's Budget Tags Aid From Lottery for Education

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Florida's public schools would receive $133 million in lottery profits with no strings attached under Gov. Bob Martinez's proposed state budget for the coming fiscal year.

The proposal was included in the Governor's broader plan to use the state's lottery-revenue jackpot--estimated at $745 million this year--to raise school districts' budgets by 10 percent and provide teachers with a 5- percent salary increase.

Governor Martinez outlined a $21.9-billion state budget for the 1990 fiscal year on Feb. 15. School districts would get $5.2 billion under the spending plan, up from the current level of $4.7 billion.

The Governor's recommendation to raise the overall state budget by only 3.2 percent reflects the lean financial situation that has existed since the legislature was forced two years ago to repeal a tax on the service industry. Under his plan, most state employees would not receive a pay increase and several agencies' budgets would be cut.

State officials said Mr. Martinez's proposal sets the stage for a new battle over how lottery revenues should be used to support education.

When they approved the lottery, voters were told the proceeds would be used to enhance education programs. Last year, however, the funds were used to supplant rather than supplement funding for schools, universities, and community colleges.

This year, both Mr. Martinez and Betty Castor, the state education commissioner, have stressed that the lottery profits should be used only to enhance education.

The Governor's proposal to give districts total discretion over how to use a portion of their lottery funds is based on the idea that local officials are in the best position to identify their communities' special needs, said Jon Peck, Mr. Martinez's spokesman.

The Governor also proposed that $311 million of the lottery profits be earmarked for supplemental programs. He suggested allocating $52 million for programs geared to at-risk children, $20 million for the improvement of middle schools, $117 million for school construction, $10 million for preschool efforts, and $100,000 to begin planning a state residential high school for mathematics and science.

The science and math academy would be patterned after North Carolina's, Mr. Peck said, and would fit in with the Governor's proposal to create a commercial "spaceport" in Florida.

The spokesman said the spending plan would raise teacher pay to keep pace with inflation, and would provide districts with adequate state funding to handle an estimated 63,300 increase in K-12 student enrollment next year.--nm

Vol. 08, Issue 23

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