While PolitiFact dispatched Nan Rich’s claim that Florida’s new expansion of school vouchers takes $3 billion a way from public education (Scathing Purple Musings takes this position, too) they didn’t argue with her number. They disagreed with Rich’s accounting and that her assertion that the figure was part of state revenues was a fair one.
Perhaps PolitiFact might be persuaded to consider that voucher expansion has taken funding away from Florida’s Bright Futures Scholarship Program. South Dade Newsleader’s Larry Diehl interviewed Sen. Dwight Bullard (D-Miami) who explained the cuts and their ramifications:
“What happened to Bright Futures?” asked State Senator Dwight Bullard.
The Senator sought attention to the legislative cuts approved in this year’s state education budget. The Scholarship program was funded for $266.2 million in the budget, down from the $309.4 million approved for 2013-2014.
Created with Lottery funding in 1997, the merit-based scholarship program is designed to have bright Florida high school seniors earn a subsidy to stay in Florida for college. Eligibility is based on grades, community service and ACT or SAT test scores. The program grew from awards to about 42,000 students costing $70 million to today’s totals.
About 154,160 students participated last year with average awards of $2,007 each, according to the Florida Department of Education. The program expects 127,573 students to qualify this year.
“The students most impacted by these cuts are African-Americans and Latinos,” Bullard said. “We say enough is enough.”
Republican rhetoric to support expansion of vouchers is based upon what it does for African-American and Latino families. Their decision to cut Bright Futures discredits their supposed concerns. Looks like its republicans this time who are choosing winners and losers.