Florida short $36 million for school construction unless it borrows
TALLAHASSEE -- If Florida lawmakers donít agree to borrow money to pay for school construction and maintenance projects, they will come up about $36 million short of what state education officials have requested for a key program next year.
State economists made their final estimate last week on money available in the 2017-18 fiscal year for the Public Education Capital Outlay, or PECO, program, which is funded by the gross-receipts tax on utility services, including electricity and communications. They looked at two scenarios: one without bonding and the other with bonds.
With no bonds, the economists estimated PECO would generate $337 million in cash that could be used for projects in the kindergarten-through-12th grade system, state colleges and universities. That funding could be supplemented with other revenue. But if it is not, it will fall short of the $373 million PECO request from state education officials.
Bonding would change all of that. The economists project Florida has the capacity to borrow more than $2.5 billion in the next budget year, although that is a very unlikely scenario.