Florida House OKs budget that punishes mask mandate schools BRENDAN FARRINGTON , Associated Press Facebook Twitter Email
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — School districts that ignored Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order banning mask mandates will face a $200 million penalty under a budget bill passed Wednesday by the Florida House. The funding stripped from those districts would be spread among the state’s other districts.
Republican Rep. Randy Fine angrily defended the proposal to punish the 12 districts, saying they broke the law.
“Following the law is not optional. ... These school districts broke the law,” Fine said. "And they were broken for nothing.
Fine also said school districts being punished are still getting more money than they did last year because of an overall $1.2 billion increase in public school spending. He also admonished Democrats who accused Republicans of taking $200 million from the disobedient districts out of retribution.
“You want to talk about punitive, I'll take about punitive,” Fine said. “I think of the first grader who wasn't able to learn how to speak and read without looking at the face of the colleague across the way. I think of the deaf child ... who had to learn how to read lips without seeing the lips of the other children.”
The $105 billion budget passed on a 102-14 vote. Many of the Democrats cited the money shift from the 12 districts among the reasons to oppose it.
"I don’t think we should use our budget to bully municipalities or school boards, or anybody,” said Democratic Rep. Dotie Joseph, whose district is in Miami-Dade County, which has the largest school district in the state and is one of the 12 the House wants to punish.
The 12 districts implemented mask mandates at the beginning of the current school year as the delta variant of COVID-19 was still ravaging the state. The districts have since lifted the mandates. In November, the Legislature held a special session to put DeSantis' order into law.
Some Democrats supported the bill, but expressed hope that the punishment provision will be taken out when the House and Senate negotiate differences in their spending proposals. The Senate will take up its nearly $109 billion proposal on Thursday. Top Picks In Shopping
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Florida House OKs budget that punishes mask mandate schools BRENDAN FARRINGTON , Associated Press Feb. 16, 2022 Updated: Feb. 16, 2022 4:25 p.m. (AP) — School districts that ignored Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order banning mask mandates will face a $20...
(AP) — School districts that ignored Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order banning mask mandates will face a $200 million penalty under a budget bill passed Wednesday by the Florida House. Randy Fine angrily defended the proposal to punish the 12 districts,...