Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PolitiFact Florida | Tampa Bay Times
Sorting out the truth in state politics

PolitiFact: State's school funding at record level in narrow sense

Gov. Rick Scott has trumpeted his “Florida Families First” budget as providing record-breaking money for schools, including $2,500 raises for teachers. Scott said his $70.4 billion budget proposal “includes $10.7 billion in state funding for Florida K-12 schools, the highest state funding level in history.” We wondered: Would that indeed be a record?

Associated Press

Gov. Rick Scott has trumpeted his “Florida Families First” budget as providing record-breaking money for schools, including $2,500 raises for teachers. Scott said his $70.4 billion budget proposal “includes $10.7 billion in state funding for Florida K-12 schools, the highest state funding level in history.” We wondered: Would that indeed be a record?

Gov. Rick Scott has trumpeted his "Florida Families First" budget as providing record-breaking money for schools, including $2,500 raises for teachers.

Scott said his $70.4 billion budget proposal "includes $10.7 billion in state funding for Florida K-12 schools, the highest state funding level in history."

We wondered: Would that indeed be a record?

The governor was very careful to specify state funding in his comments, but schools are funded by more sources than the state. The complex formula includes local taxes and, in recent years, federal stimulus dollars.

Scott's press team directed us to a breakdown of state and local school funding for the past 10 years.

Overall, Scott wants the state to spend $18.47 billion for education during the 2013-14 school year. The state's share of that would be about $10.7 billion.

So if the Legislature passes a budget that precisely mirrors Scott's education proposals, the state's share of education spending would be its highest since 2007-08, when it was $9.71 billion. In terms of the state's actual dollar investment, Scott is right that it would be the highest.

However, total state and local education spending in Scott's budget would be $280 million smaller than the 2007-08 budget signed by Gov. Charlie Crist.

What's in the $1.2 billion increase from last year's education spending? About $480 million would go toward teacher raises and $300 million would go toward the unfunded liability of the state's retirement system. There's some debate as to whether the pension funding should be considered part of an education increase, but a couple of experts told us it's reasonable because past calculations of the state's per-pupil funding have included the cost of teacher wages, part of which goes to the retirement system.

Of course, there are other ways of looking at state education spending. One is to look at spending per student.

As a whole, counting state and local funding, per-pupil funding under Scott's new budget would be $6,799. That's short of what it was before the economic recession, when per-pupil funding peaked in 2007-08 at $7,126. So back then, the state had fewer students and was providing more money for each. Now we have 85,000 more students, but less money for each one.

If you look only at the state's per-pupil level of $3,941 in Scott's new budget, it does exceed funding levels for the past 10 years in terms of actual dollars.

Finally, there's inflation to think about.

We used a Consumer Price Index calculator from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to compare Scott's proposal with state spending on education for the past 10 years. The takeaway is that state spending on education, when adjusted for inflation, would not be significantly different than it was from 2004 to 2007.

Still, even the Florida Education Association, the state teachers union that sued Scott over the 2011 merit-pay plan, conceded the state has never invested more.

"Added money spent on public schools always helps grow our economy," said FEA President Andy Ford in a statement. "We look forward to the governor's strong advocacy of this proposal."

So to recap, Scott said his budget "includes $10.7 billion in state funding for Florida K-12 schools, the highest state funding level in history."

Floridians hearing this statement might think that means education funding for Florida schools has never been higher. That's not the case.

Actually, Scott is referring only to the state government's specific contribution to overall spending. Scott drums up the state share as an historic investment, and it is in terms of actual dollars.

But there are also local and federal dollars that fund Florida schools. When you consider those, Scott's overall recommendation for education spending is still short of what Florida students received before the economic crash. It's about the same as it was under Gov. Jeb Bush when considering inflation.

Scott's claim is partially accurate, but it leaves out important details that would give a different impression. We rate this claim Half True.

The statement

Scott's proposal for funding Florida schools is "the highest state funding level in history."

Gov. Rick Scott, Jan. 31, at a news conference

The ruling

PolitiFact ruling: Half True
Scott chose a narrow definition of state funding, not counting how schools are funded with local property taxes. Overall, funding for schools in Florida is not at record level. We rate the statement Half True.

PolitiFact: State's school funding at record level in narrow sense 02/10/13 [Last modified: Monday, February 11, 2013 8:45am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Spacewalking astronauts pull off urgent repairs at International Space Station (w/video)

    Space

    CAPE CANAVERAL — Spacewalking astronauts completed urgent repairs at the International Space Station on Tuesday, replacing equipment that failed three days earlier and restoring a backup for a vital data-relay system.

    In this NASA provided frame from video, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer works to install antennas at the International Space Station while astronaut Peggy Whitson, not pictured, works on repairs Tuesday, May 23, 2017. [NASA via AP]
  2. For starters: Rays vs. Angels, with Cobb leading the way

    Blogs

    Rays veteran RHP Alex Cobb had a lot to say Monday about the team needing to focus on getting past .500 and building a winning record.

    And after the disappointing 3-2 loss that …

    Alex Cobb will start tonight when the Rays play the Angels.
  3. Tampa murder suspect told police he wanted to stop neo-Nazi roommates from committing acts of domestic terrorism

    Criminal

    TAMPA — After he admitted to shooting two roommates and led police to their dead bodies, Devon Arthurs said he committed the killings to prevent the pair from carrying out terrorist acts, a prosecutor wrote in a court filing.

    Devon Arthurs, 18, told police  he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with his roommates, Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, until he converted to Islam, according to a police report.
[Tampa Police]
  4. Pinellas School Board approves plan that aims to close achievement gap

    K12

    After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the Pinellas County School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan that aims to tackle the achievement gap in 10 years and settles a long-running lawsuit over the education of …

    "I'm an optimist. I think this is going to work," Pinellas School Board member Linda Lerner said Tuesday after the board was presented with a plan that aims to settle a long-running lawsuit over the education of black students and close the achievement gap. The board voted 7-0 to approve the plan. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  5. With big concerts approaching, Tampa Bay venues remain vigilant after Manchester attack

    Public Safety

    In the aftermath of an explosion that killed at least 22 people — including children — moments after a pop concert ended in England on Monday night, local venues assured the public that security will remain tight for Tampa Bay area's upcoming big-ticket shows.

    Fans cross Himes Avenue in Tampa toward Raymond James Stadium before the start of Beyonce's Formation World Tour in Tampa on April 29, 2016. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]