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Bad news for school construction

There isn't likely to be any new money for school construction and maintenance for the next few years, Florida economists said Friday.

That's partly because the state expects to receive less revenue from the Gross Receipts Tax, a tax on electric, telephone and cable bills that supports the Public Education Capital Outlay, or PECO, fund.

Adding to the problem, the state will no longer be able to sell a $250 million bond issue -- and will have to pay for existing projects out of a cash account, said Amy Baker, director of the Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research.

For a time, public school systems and universities relied heavily on PECO dollars to support new construction and routine maintenance.

The dollars, however, have been steadily dwindling.

This year, about $57 million in PECO dollars went to Florida's colleges and universities.

Traditional school districts did not receive money from the PECO fund, but $55 million went to Florida's public charter schools.