AG candidate: Sue Legislature, Governor

Oct 6, 2009

Brandon Larrabee

The Florida Times-Union

TALLAHASSEE -- Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, called on the attorney general to sue the Legislature and governor in a maneuver to force more funding for schools.

Gelber said state officials are unconstitutionally stiffing schools and that citizens will file an education funding lawsuit if Attorney General Bill McCollum does not.

"It makes very little sense to ask a group of parents to bring an expensive lawsuit when we are talking about a violation of the constitution," Gelber said during a press conference.

The event was laced with 2010 politics. Gelber is running for attorney general in 2010 and McCollum is running for governor.

The Supreme Court previously turned away an education funding lawsuit years ago because the state's constitution didn't define what "[a]dequate provision ... for a uniform system of free public schools" meant. Gelber said a constitutional change in 1998 would give a new lawsuit a better chance of succeeding.

Sandi Copes, a spokeswoman for McCollum, responded: "The Attorney General believes that education is certainly a top priority that must be adequately funded. Article IX, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution imposes this responsibility solely on the Legislature, of which Sen. Gelber is a member. Before any judicial action can be pursued, it is incumbent on the Legislature to take action on a proposed budget and provide funding for Florida's educational system."

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