Scott rolls out plan to increase education funding
Republican Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday announced a plan to raise per-student spending to a record level next year.
Scott's proposal calls for $7,176 for each student in Florida -- a $232 increase over the current school year and a $50 increase over the record high from 2007-08.
"I am proud to announce that in the upcoming legislative session we will propose an increase in Florida’s per-pupil spending to the highest level in our state's history," Scott said in a statement. "We already have the highest total spending in K-12 this year and gave every teacher the opportunity for a pay raise. 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."
The announcement may seem a little premature, considering the November election still stands between Scott and the 2015 legislative session.
But it makes perfect sense in the context of the campaign.
Last week, Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist traveled the state in a yellow school bus, reminding Floridians that Scott cut $1.3 billion from the state education budget during his first year in office in 2011.
Crist promised more money for public schools, but did not provide specific figures.
The Florida Democratic Party responded by calling Scott's announcement an election-year gimmick.
They pointed out that the record-high per-pupil spending level of $7,126 from 2007-08 equates to $8,191 in 2014 dollars.
"The truth is, Rick Scott cut $1.3 billion from Florida’s education system in his first year," FDP Chair Allison Tant said. "Every year since then, he has failed to bring school funding back up to where it was under Charlie Crist. This new proposal continues that four-year record of failure.