Long-Term Funding for Florida’s Schools, Colleges and Universities Clears Legislature

Today the Florida House and Senate both approved a bill that will provide sustainable funding to support Florida's education infrastructure, save Florida businesses more than $3 million in taxes they pay on electricity consumption and provide a sales tax holiday for Florida consumers to save on the purchase of energy-efficient appliances. The legislation, passed as part of HB 5601, now goes to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature. 
 
These priorities of Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam would provide more than $160 million annually to fund the state's Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) trust fund, which provides money for education infrastructure at Florida's schools, colleges and universities. PECO, funded in part through a tax on land-line telephones, has diminished from nearly $200 million six years ago to just $73 million last year.

“The funding source for Florida's education infrastructure is all but dried up,” said Commissioner Putnam. “This legislation will provide schools with the long-term, sustainable means they need to help our kids succeed.”

The proposal shifts revenue from 2.6 percent of the 7 percent collected on the commercial electricity sales tax to support PECO. With bonding capacity, the bill could provide up to $2.3 billion for Florida schools. The proposal also reduces the sales tax rate that Florida's employers pay on electricity consumption, saving Florida business owners $3.1 million.

In addition, the legislation provides a three-day tax holiday for consumers who purchase Energy Star or WaterSense appliances. Consumers would pay no tax on the first $1,500 on these appliances purchased on Sept. 19-21, 2014.

These proposals were first introduced in the Senate by Sen. Anitere Flores as SB 1076 and in the House by Rep. Mike Hill as HB 899.

“I would like to thank Sen. Flores and Rep. Hill, along with Senate President Don Gaetz, House Speaker Will Weatherford, Sen. Joe Negron, Rep. Seth McKeel and their colleagues for lending their support to a measure that will help schools get our kids college, career and workforce-ready,” Commissioner Putnam said.

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