PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - The budget battle is just beginning in Florida.
Governor Rick Scott unveiled his proposals Monday, but already his education plan is coming under fire.
The governor says he isn't touching the state general education fund; it will remain the same as the previous year. But his budget still shows a $3 billion hit to schools, and that has educators and even some parents worried.
"When he writes or draws pictures, he can express how he feels," said Arleen Graham, mother of 10 year-old Jacob. The Port Charlotte student has autism, and his family says it was a teacher who helped him discover his talent for drawing as a way to communicate.
"If we didn't have the arts in the schools and music, I just don't know where Jacob would be," Graham said.
It's built Jacob's confidence to the point where he's sharing his artwork at the Charlotte County Fair.
Jacob's his parents worry about his future if Governor Rick Scott's budget includes cuts for education.
"We're very concerned that will happen, and that will leave Jacob out in the cold, frankly," Graham said.
"Like everybody in this country, everybody has to figure out how to do things better, but we're continuing to fund education," Gov. Rick Scott said.
Governor Scott says he isn't changing state education funding, but Florida schools will get fewer federal stimulus dollars. That means a $700 per student cut. It could drop to about $300 if teachers pay into their pensions.
"I don't know how they expect our education system to continue working," said Donna Mutzenard, Executive Director of Island Coast FEA.
Teacher's unions aren't pleased with the Scott plan, fearing jobs, and programs from art to sports could all face elimination.
"We've cut and we've cut and we've cut, there's not a whole lot more to cut in the school districts. The fat is gone," Mutzenard said.
"We would just hate to see the budget cut that deeply, because we believe that would cut into the lifeline of our children," Graham said.
Local lawmakers say they're still studying the budget; but in an interview on "Power Players with JIM McLaughlin" on 1200/1460 WINK News Radio Wednesday night, Cape Coral Republican Gary Aubuchon indicated there may be wiggle room in the governor's plan.