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Italy's education minister quits after no funding increase

ROME (AP) — Italy's Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti said Thursday he has resigned in a letter sent to the Italian premier, after the government failed to increase funding for schools and universities in next year's budget.

In a Facebook post, Fioramonti confirmed he sent his resignation letter Monday evening after the final parliament approval of the 2020 budget law. The resignation represents a new headache for the uneasy coalition government formed this year by his party, the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, and the center-left Democrats. The ruling parties, which joined forces in August to stop the bid for power of the League's far-right leader Matteo Salvini, have different views on key policies ranging from the economy to migration.

Fioramonti had pledged to quit unless education spending was increased by at least 3 billion euros. That target wasn't met by the new budget as the government struggles to find the resources needed to avoid a massive VAT hike.

“I had accepted my job with the only aim to revert in a radical way the trend that for decades has put school, university and research in a painful situation,” Fioramonti wrote in his post. He said the government didn't have enough courage to invest adequate resources in a sector that represents “the real future for all of us.”

A 2018 report on education and training prepared by the European Commission shows that Italy spends less than other EU countries and achieves worse results. For this reason, Italy runs the risk of losing a million students in the next 10 years, the report said.

Fioramonti's resignation is unlikely to have wider political consequences. He has pledged to keep supporting Premier Giuseppe Conte in parliament, where he is a lower-house deputy,

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