Dear Senator Simmons,
I live in your district and I wanted to let you know what I thought about a particular budget issue. The newspapers are full of things that are proposed to be cut, but they never say much about what will stay pretty much intact. Today I discovered that while the House is proposing “raiding” the road building trust fund (which is what a trust fund is for . . . rainy days) the Senate and the Governor wants to keep building roads. I presume that this is because roads are near and dear to developer’s hearts since more roads makes it possible to develop land further and further out in the boondocks.
I think that before school funding is cut, road building should stop. I am not happy with traffic congestion, but I also know that the State legislature has been slowly eroding a solemn promise made in the 1930’s to the people of the state of Florida.
Back in the 1930’s, Florida had hundreds of local school districts. Every town and city had one and there was no money coming from the State to run these schools. Then the legislature stepped in and offered to take them all over — many refused, but eventually they were all forced to deed the land over to these newly empowered County School Boards, which we now have. 90% of the funding was supposed to come from Tallahassee since the small counties controlled the legislature then. But things have changed. The 90 went to 80 and then even lower so that now less than 50% comes from Tallahassee. Still, that is too much, according to some legislators, yet road building has been fully funded for many years.
Since the takeover, at every downturn in the economy, the legislature has had to decide — roads or schools? Up until now, schools have won out. The legislature has an obligation to uphold the schools since it is in the Florida Constitution. There is no such obligation in the Constitution for making sure the citizens don’t have to slow down on their 50 mile commute.
You are new at this position and I doubt you have much to say, but you do have a final vote. I urge you to put people ahead of roads this time.