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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Gov. Rick Scott announces proposal to boost Florida education spending



Florida Gov. Rick Scott, facing a heated reelection battle in which his dedication to education has been challenged, this morning announced his plan to recommend "an increase in Florida’s per-pupil spending to the highest level in our state’s history." 

"We already have the highest total spending in K-12 this year and gave every teacher the opportunity for a pay raise," Scott said in a release. "Because we were able to get Florida’s economy back on track, revenues are now projected to stay at a strong enough rate to support historic investments in education."

Politifact Florida has said Scott's claim of having the state's highest education budget this year is half true, depending on how you look at the numbers. During his tenure, Scott has proposed massive cuts to education funding, and then later restored some of the $1.3 billion he cut. He pushed for and got money for teacher raises in the fiscal 2014 budget, but did not make a similar press in the current budget.

Seeking to boost his support amid attacks by Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist, who boasts of vetoing massive changes to teachers' employment terms, Scott now talks of education in populist language.

"My mom taught me that a good education was the way out of poverty and I want all Floridians to have the opportunity to receive a great education and have their shot at the American Dream," he said. "By increasing per pupil spending to historic levels next year, school districts will have more resources to provide Florida children the best education possible."

His proposal would equate to a total of over $19.6 billion, which means $7,176 per student - a $232 per student increase over this school year and a $50 increase over the 2007-08 per student funding level of $7,126.

As in past governor's budget proposals, we must note that the governor presents but the Legislature must consent. And in past years, lawmakers have politely done their own thing when it comes to education funding. Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Thursday, August 21, 2014 9:17am]


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