Scott enlists aid of public school chiefs to get his budget passedby Dara Kam | December 14th, 2011
After slashing education spending by $1.3 billion earlier this year, Gov. Rick Scott is now asking school superintendents to help get his $1 billion budget boost for public schools passed. And he reiterated his vow to veto any budget that “does not significantly increase state funding for education” in a letter to school superintendents sent today.
Scott included the $1 billion education increase in his $66.4 billion election-year budget proposal after hearing from Floridians that they want more spent on schools, he said. Scott also said that education is the cornerstone of his plan to bring more jobs to the state.
“If you support the budget I am proposing, please let your legislators know. Now that I have presented my budget recommendations, it’s their turn to listen, just as I have done. Please join me in advocating for the children of our state and Florida’s economic future,” Scott wrote.
More than 30,000 new students will enroll in Florida public schools, requiring an additional $200 million over current spending, Scott wrote. And school districts are facing a $220 million reduction in ad valorem taxes, meaning lawmakers will have to pump nearly $500 million more into education to break even.
His plan would bring average per-pupil spending in Florida to $6,372, a $142 increase over the current year but still well below the $7,126 high in 2008.
“As I have listened to the challenges described by teachers, parents and administrators during the past few months, all have urged me to increase the state’s commitment to education. That is my plan, and I ask for your help in making that plan a reality for Florida’s students,” Scott wrote.
The governor once again threw down the gauntlet to lawmakers, many of whom have balked at his plan to beef up education spending by squeezing $2 billion out of Medicaid payments to hospitals.
“Every educator, student, parent and business leader should know: I will not sign a budget from the Legislature that does not significantly increase state funding for education,” Scott wrote.