Gary Fineout explains what “compression” is in a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at buget negotiations

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Man, this is some inside baseball.

I mean, this is some Bill James, Moneyball, sabermetrics inside baseball.

In case you did not know what “compression” means as it relates to legislative budgeting, the inimitable Gary Fineout explains:

In theory it’s an attempt to compress the per-student funding ranges that exist from one district to another. It’s an effort to recognize that property values (which drive property taxes) are not in the same in every county. So the state adds extra money to help smooth out the range.

The way it’s handled can be a big, big deal, however.

And that’s what’s happening this year.

The Senate is insisting on pumping $30.5 million more into compression than the House.

And right now the House isn’t budging on this. Said Fresen: “We believe that the FEFP works the way that it is.”

Translation: The Senate way of using compression creates a geopolitical rift. That’s because pouring extra money into compression in essence dramatically impacts some counties more than others.

Duval County, for example, got a $411 per-student increase in its funding under the initial Senate plan compared to $401 in the House plan. Miami-Dade got a nearly a $417 increase in per-student funding in the initial House budget compared to a $399 per-student jump in the Senate budget.

Miami-Dade schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Tuesday that the difference between the House and Senate approaches in compression amounted to a $4 million difference.

There’s more from Fineout here, including an explaination of the Florida Education Finance Program and a budgetary term known as “sparsity.”

Bill Beane would be impressed.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.