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Reversing Trend, Gov. Scott Will Ask for $1 Billion Education Boost Despite Shortfalls

| December 6, 2011

Rick Scott has been getting an education. (© FlaglerLive)

Gov. Rick Scott is set to propose a $1 billion increase in education spending over this year, planning to call Wednesday for a boost to per-student spending despite a state revenue shortfall and lower local school tax dollars.

In a conference call with state school superintendents Tuesday, Scott, who will be proposing his second budget since getting elected in 2010, said he plans to call for lawmakers to increase per-pupil spending from $6,262 to $6,372, even after factoring in expected growth of about 30,000 more students over the current school year.

A spokesman for the governor said late Tuesday that officials in the governor’s office believe it would be one of the largest increases in K-12 spending in recent history if lawmakers were to go along.

Scott plans to make public his proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 on Wednesday afternoon.

His spokesman, Lane Wright, declined to say Tuesday where the governor will propose to cut spending to be able to afford the proposed boost in education spending – a cut that will need to be even larger because of revenue projections that are off by nearly $2 billion over what legislators earmarked this year.

Scott has also made it clear that he agrees with Republican legislative leadership’s anti-tax viewpoint, and has said publicly a few times that he won’t call for any tax increases.

The governor’s recommendations are merely the first formal step in a months-long process and the final budget will eventually be written by the Legislature, though Scott has line item veto power.

Senate budget committees are expected to receive presentations on Thursday about Scott’s recommendations.

“Education pays, and we clearly must find a way to increase our investment in Florida’s students,” Scott said in a recorded radio address distributed to stations on Tuesday.

But he acknowledged the difficulty of finding the extra money, noting the student increase, which will mean it will cost $191 million more over current year spending just to keep per-pupil funding flat.


“Florida’s growing student population comes at a time when we also estimate a loss of local revenue,” Scott said in his radio address. “This means Florida school districts will have over $200 million less to spend. In spite of this bleak budget picture, I am committed to increasing Florida’s investment in the education of our young people.”

As Scott leaked small details of his budget to various outlets on Tuesday, Democrats quickly pointed out that the Republican-dominated Legislature has cut education spending as the economy has tanked – meaning that any increase only serves to get Florida back to where it was a few years ago. The current year budget, for example, cut more than $1.3 billion from education, Democrats said, arguing that even a $1 billion increase still leaves education coffers lighter than they were before Scott took office. Per-student spending dropped by more than $500 last year.

“The current state education funding levels are at the lowest levels since FY 2005-06,” House Democrats said in a statement sent out late Tuesday.

Per-student spending peaked at more than $7,100 per child during the 2007-2008 fiscal year, just before the economic downturn.

Regardless, Scott told a Jacksonville TV station that it was time to put the money back into education.

“I’m going to tell the Legislature, ‘I’m not signing the budget unless we substantially increase state funding for education,’ because that’s what our hard-working Floridians want,” Scott told WJXT. “We’ve got to put this money into education.”

–David Royce, News Service of Florida

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11 Responses for “Reversing Trend, Gov. Scott Will Ask for $1 Billion Education Boost Despite Shortfalls”

  1. The Truth says:

    How is this moron our Governor again? Oh that’s right, the Republicans thought he’s make everything better.

  2. Yellowstone says:

    Well now, as the worm turns . . .

    This is a well intended ‘change’ from the staunchly past positions of this mindless GOP administration and legislature.

    Let’s see if he can now ‘walk the talk!”

    Hallelujah!

  3. Outsider says:

    I guess he’s getting the same lesson Arnold got in California; you can’t get re-elected unless you’re spending billions of dollars the government doesn’t have.

  4. Kip Durocher says:

    All the blowback he has gotten on everything he does requires this coat of cheap paint .
    Smoke and mirrors and bull sh!t. He is a skilled con – he has proven that even before
    he landed in Tallahassee.
    72 million of his own money to buy the job. He sees himself in the Whitehouse.
    Some good reading:
    http://www.thenation.com/article/164651/how-online-learning-companies-bought-americas-schools

  5. Kendall Clark-StJacques via Facebook says:

    I don’t think there is anything that guy can do to win a second term.

  6. palmcoaster says:

    You got that right Kip…wonder in what part of the privatization of our public schools education, he wants to fund with his proposal to benefit more private corporations….be ware of the messenger this time.

  7. global 3922 says:

    this clown was a yoyo since day one, & people were dumb enought to beleive him.

  8. JIM GUINES says:

    i can’t believe that this is the same guy. I hope he can get the education train on the track again. A lot of harm has been done. I guess he saw the written on the wall.

  9. thinkforyourself says:

    Amazing that no one can see that this is exactly what he did last year. He spoke out of both sides of his mouth. He gave the legislature a completely unrealistic budget that went absolutely nowhere, ticked off every legislator under the sun because someone had to be the bad guy and then had no choice but to cut over 1 billion from the ed budget. He now is able to grab headlines (because sadly that little sound bite is what sticks in the electorates mind) while he has no real plan to do what he says he’s going to do but he can be the hero for a day. It is politics at it’s highest, most disgusting level. I’ll believe it when I see it!

  10. Liana G says:

    Why Innovation Can’t Fix America’s Classrooms
    By Marc Tucker
    Dec 6 2011,

    “Most Atlantic readers know that, although the U.S. spends more per student on K-12 education than any other nation except Luxembourg, students in a growing number of nations outperform our own. But think about this: Among the consistent top performers are not only developed nations (Japan, Finland, Canada), but developing countries and mega-cities such as South Korea, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

    Even if we find a way to educate our future work force to the same standards as this latter group — and we are a very long way from that now — wages in the United States will continue to decline unless we outperform those countries enough to justify our higher wages. That is a very tall order.[…]

    You would think that, being far behind our competitors, we would be looking hard at how they are managing to outperform us…Instead, they are confidently barreling down a path of American exceptionalism, insisting that America is so different from these other nations that we are better off embracing unique, unproven solutions that our foreign competitors find bizarre.

    The top-performing nations have followed paths that are remarkably similar and straightforward. Most start by putting more money behind their hardest-to-educate students than those who are easier to educate. In the U.S., we do the opposite.

    They develop world-class academic standards for their students, a curriculum to match the standards, and high-quality exams and instructional materials based on that curriculum. In the U.S., most states have recently adopted Common Core State Standards in English and math, which is a good start. […]

    The top-performing nations boost the quality of their teaching forces by greatly raising entry standards for teacher education programs. They insist that all teachers have in-depth knowledge of the subjects they will teach, … apprenticing new teachers to master teachers and raising teacher pay to that of other high-status professions. They then encourage these highly trained teachers to take the lead in improving classroom practices.[…]

    In the U.S., on the other hand, teaching remains a low-status profession. Our teacher colleges have minimal admission standards, and most teachers are educated in professional schools with very little prestige. Once they start working, they are paid substantially less than other professionals. …All this leads to poor student achievement.

    Many of our teachers also have a very weak background in the subjects they are assigned to teach, and increasingly, they’re allowed to become teachers after only weeks of training. When we are short on teachers, we waive our already-low standards, something the high-performing countries would never dream of doing.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/why-innovation-cant-fix-americas-classrooms/249524/

  11. Kevin says:

    Liana G.—Wow, I enjoyed your comment!

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