Short Shrift

In business, as well as in government, there must be someone on staff who is looking beyond the visible horizon. In my 26 years in uniform, that meant training for war and praying for peace. It meant being able to deter our enemies from taking any action, along a spectrum that ranged from isolated acts to terrorism to thermonuclear war — and having a response at each level should they choose to ignore the rational choice.

Having lived and worked in the public school system in Marion County for more than 22 years, I have come to realize that there is a strategic imperative much closer to home. We are faced with a daily challenge to ensure that every child, regardless of their external situation, is afforded the opportunity to become the educated, productive American citizen upon whom so much of our collective future depends. Yet we observe that many of those charged with sustaining that lofty goal, whether in Washington, Tallahassee, or right here at home, lack the ability to think beyond the end of a yearly budget plan or a two- to four-year election cycle.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in our failure to properly fund public education, and a look back helps focus our attention on the present dilemma. In May 2008 the Florida budget stood at $71.5 billion. If adjusted for inflation using the Department of Labor’s CPI Inflation Calculator, the 2017 budget should have been $79.9 billion. In actuality, it is nearly $83 billion. Conclusion: Our state budget has grown faster than inflation.

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