Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Scott pitches $542 million school budget increase

TALLAHASSEE — Facing one of the best state budget outlooks in recent memory, Gov. Rick Scott on Monday made a pitch to increase public school spending by $542 million.

Scott said his proposed budget would drive education spending to a record high of $18.84 billion and called the plan "historic."

But the proposed increase fell short of the $1.25 billion increase Scott recommended last year, and the $1 billion boost he suggested the year before.

What's more, critics said, the money would not be enough to cover new costs for school districts, including the technology upgrades needed for new, computer-based tests.

"The needs for Florida students continue to grow and the mandates passed down from elected leaders continue to multiply," Florida Education Association president Andy Ford said.

Scott is expected to release his entire budget proposal Wednesday.

State economists are predicting the state will collect $850 million more in revenue this coming year than during the current budget year — the largest increase since the economic downturn.

Scott has already said he will seek $30 million next year for a new workforce training initiative focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics as well as $130 million for Everglades-related projects.

But Scott, a Republican who is running for re-election, will also focus his energy on tax cuts. He has unveiled a proposal to reduce taxes and fees statewide by $500 million.

Scott did not release many details about his proposed education budget Monday. Neither the governor's office nor the state education department could say if the proposal included money for technology upgrades or performance pay for teachers.

It was also unclear what the proposed per-pupil spending would be, or how it would compare with last year's per-student allocation of $6,776.

Some details were released, including Scott's desire to spend $8.4 million in professional development for principals and assistant principals. The nonprofit Florida TaxWatch has made school leadership a top priority in recent months.

Scott also wants to spend $5 million to help teachers transition to the Florida Standards, the new education benchmarks based on the controversial Common Core State Standards.

His suggested higher education budget includes $2 billion for state colleges and about $3.6 billion for the state university system. Of the total for universities, $40 million would be set aside for performance-based incentives.

Said Scott: "Our students deserve the best quality education, and this funding will help to ensure that every degree achieved is followed by a great career."

Both Education Commissioner Pam Stewart and State University System chancellor Marshall Criser III issued statements praising the governor's proposed education budget.

But Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant called it Scott's "latest re-election campaign stunt."

"Rick Scott thinks he needs to begin this election year by rewriting his record," Tant said. "But Floridians remember Rick Scott's record. Scott has consistently put corporate tax giveaways first and put the needs of Florida's kids last."

Scott's previous proposals for education spending have been closely watched.

In his first year in office, Scott proposed nearly $3.3 billion in cuts to education. About $1.3 billion of those cuts were included in the final budget.

The next year, Scott reversed course and said the Legislature should inject $1 billion back into the education budget.

He recommended another $1.25 billion be added to education spending last year. Lawmakers ultimately agreed to add $1 billion, including $480 million that was set aside for teacher raises.

Contact Kathleen McGrory at kmcgrory@MiamiHerald.com.

Scott pitches $542 million school budget increase 01/27/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 27, 2014 10:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Study: Tampa Bay a top market for homebuyers on the move

    Real Estate

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, ATTOM Data Solutions says.

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, a survey found.
[Associated Press file photo]
  2. Tampa lawyer Fred Ridley to be new chairman of Augusta National, Masters' home (w/ video)

    Golf

    AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Ridley first came to Augusta National to compete in the 1976 Masters as the U.S. Amateur champion, and he played the opening round in the traditional pairing with the defending champion, Jack Nicklaus.

  3. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, activate Alex Cobb

    Blogs

    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  4. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  5. Six home runs doom Rays in loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A curve that didn't bounce was the difference Wednesday as the Rays lost 7-6 to the Blue Jays in front of 8,264, the smallest Tropicana field crowd since Sept. 5, 2006.

    Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (11) greets center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) at the plate after his two run home run in the third inning of the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.