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Election year school funding proposal earns nothing but shrug from Senate

by John Kennedy | November 6th, 2013

After Rick Scott pushed $1 billion increases in school funding the past two years, Senate Republicans were unimpressed Wednesday by the state Education Department’s proposal for a $386.6 million boost in 2014, when the governor will be running for re-election.

The recommendation would bump up per-pupil spending by a modest 1.87 percent, or $126.77 for each of Florida’s 2.7 million students.

Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, quizzed state officials who presented the spending proposal to the Senate’s education budget committee. He said that with rising insurance and transportation costs rippling through school districts, the increase could quickly disappear.

The budget panel’s chairman, Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said spending talks are at an early stage. But he was hesitant about making big promises for the election-year budget months before the Legislature convenes in March.

Galvano, though, said politics won’t be what drives the bottom line.

“We’re going to base the budget on what’s needed, and in an efficient and effective manner,” Galvano said. “It’s not going to be based on politics. Last year, there was a substantial increase” largely attributed to $480 million earmarked for teacher pay raises.

State educators, though, did seem to make a concession to Scott’s push for holding the line on college and university tuition increase. Neither proposal outlined Wednesday by the state’s college system and Board of Governors includes a proposed tuition hike.

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