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Rick Scott Proposing to Raise Per-Student Funding Back to Nominal High of 2007

| January 12, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott, who's faced his last election, wants to play nice with students.

Gov. Rick Scott, who’s faced his last election, wants to play nice with students.

Making good on a campaign promise, Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday he will ask lawmakers to provide the highest per-student funding for education in state history during the legislative session that begins in March.

Scott said his “Keep Florida Working” budget would include $7,176 per student, about $50 above the previous high in the 2007-08 budget year. That spending plan was approved before the financial crisis that caused the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

(The proposal is based on current dollars, not inflation-adjusted dollars. In other words, for Scott’s proposal to exceed the 2007-08 education budget after adjusting for inflation, he would have to propose $8,115 per student, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator.)

“Our historic funding proposal of $7,176 per student will provide our schools the resources for our students to have the very best opportunity to succeed because we know the workers and leaders of tomorrow are in our classrooms today,” Scott said in a prepared statement. ” … These record investments will continue to equip our students for the jobs of tomorrow and help us on our path to be the number one destination for jobs.”

In inflation-adjusted dollars, the proposal is still $1,000 below the high of 2007.

The proposal would mark an increase of roughly $261 from the current budget year, which ends June 30. But it still has to survive a legislative process in which lawmakers will be eager to fulfill their own priorities. So far, legislative leaders have been noncommittal when asked specifically about meeting Scott’s targets for education funding and a portion of the $1 billion in tax cuts he promised over two years.

The school funding proposal won Scott a rare compliment from the state’s largest teachers union.

“FEA applauds the governor for keeping his campaign promise and increasing the state’s budget allotment for public school students,” Florida Education Association President Andy Ford said. “We look forward to working with the governor and the Legislature to continue to invest to improve our local public schools and helping all of the students who attend them.”

Overall, funding for public schools would rise by $842.5 million, to almost $19.8 billion. The state’s share would increase to a shade over $11 billion, meaning about $400 million of the new funding would come from the state. Local taxpayers would pick up the rest.

Democrats have signaled that they’re not impressed by Scott’s pitch. After the governor’s inaugural address last week, Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, said the proposed boost in education spending isn’t enough.

“We need to do a whole lot more than that, because coming to Florida to live is more than about lower taxes and warm weather,” she said. “It’s about the quality of life that you will have and the type jobs that we will offer these people.”

Scott is expected to release a full budget proposal in the next few weeks.

–Brandon Larrabee, News Service of Florida

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4 Responses for “Rick Scott Proposing to Raise Per-Student Funding Back to Nominal High of 2007”

  1. Yellowstone says:

    OK, now we need to hear another commitment to provide adequate healthcare; in order to “equip our workers for the jobs of tomorrow and help us on our path to be the number one destination for jobs”.

  2. Sherry Epley says:

    WOW! Do the math! These numbers indicate just how much the budget for education was SLASHED since 2007! Now this administration is touting how they have raised the budget to LESS (in inflation adjusted dollars) than in 2007. This is 2015 guys. . . you must be soooooo proud!

  3. Lancer says:

    Sherry Epley…did you live in a dream world during the recession???

    Only in that la-la land where the entire state of Florida was decimated with foreclosures and property tax revenues dramatically lowered…should the state’s education budget have remained unchanged.

    Property tax revenues fund education. Gov. Scott knew, full well, he was making an enemy of the entitled minded teachers unions and lovers of government when he made the responsible decision to cut the states education budget. It was a difficult, but necessary decision…it was RESPONSIBLE.

    Now that our economy slowly recovers…more slowly because of Washington DC’s “only government” policies that have actually delayed economic gains…the budget can be increased once again.

    Scott should be lauded for being responsible, not chastised because some people cannot operate a calculator or understand simple finance and budgets.

  4. Sherry Epley says:

    School budget slashing by this administration was not straight forward at all, when you consider that programs for teaching higher technologies were cut in favor of the political maneuvering to create a new university! This from Forbes:

    How Governor Rick Scott is Sabotaging Florida’s Universities

    Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the 2012 state budget at a Jacksonville elementary school, presumably to emphasize the budget’s inclusion of an additional $1 billion for education. That would be impressive, if not for the fact that last year he cut the state’s education budget by $1.3 billion. That’s like burning down someone’s house, replacing it with the wooden frame of a house and calling it progress.

    Such is the track record of Governor Scott, whose proficiency with double speak would have made Orwell wince. While claiming to be Florida’s greatest champion for education, he’s busy approving plans that hamstring educators at every level — and leave students out in the cold.

    Case in point: my Forbes colleague Steven Salzberg reports on a plan to cut–as in completely eradicate–the University of Florida’s (UF) computer and information science department — a move couched as a consequence of Scott’s university-neutering budget. Quoting Salzberg:

    The University of Florida announced this past week that it was dropping its computer science department, which will allow it to save about $1.7 million. The school is eliminating all funding for teaching assistants in computer science, cutting the graduate and research programs entirely, and moving the tattered remnants into other departments.*

    At the same time, Scott approved plans to fund a brand new university near Tampa called Florida Polytechnic University. As you may know, Tampa is already home to one of the largest universities in the state, the University of South Florida (USF), which will be suffering severe budget cuts in the very same budget that includes funding for a new school just a few miles away. Confused? That would be the appropriate response to decisions made the Rick Scott way, which defy logic, to say nothing of fairness and consistency.

    How USF got the shaft while Scott blessed the creation of a new university has nothing to do with logic or fairness, and everything to do with power politics. In March, the budget was locked up because the Republican chairman of the budget committee, State Senator JD Alexander, demanded that USF’s Lakeland campus, which is in his district, be made into an independent state university. Alexander is serving his last year as a Senator due to term limits and wants his legacy to include something big, and as the budget chairman, he was in a position to get his way.

    When USF opposed Alexander’s plan, it suddenly faced a 58 percent reduction in its budget — the price a school evidently pays for bucking the chairman of the budget committee. In the end, Alexander got his new university and USF got hit with a less punitive budget cut.

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