Scott schools’ budget big — but maybe not that bigby John Kennedy | January 27th, 2014
Gov. Rick Scott’s election-year education budget, unveiled Monday in Delray Beach, is touted as including record amounts of spending for Florida schools, colleges and universities.
But one basic numbers remains elusive.
What is Scott’s per-pupil funding for K-12 students?
It wasn’t touched on by Scott or his staff — and may loom as a basic measurement that may not measure up to the biggest ever.
The state’s all-time mark for per-pupil spending was reached in 2007-8, when then-Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law a budget which included average, per-pupil spending of $7,126 for Florida’s roughly 2.7 million school kids.
The recession and budget-cutting blew a hole in that figure. It dropped to a recent low of $6,217 in Scott’s first year as governor — when he cut school spending by $1.3 billion.
Since then, back-to-back years of billion-dollar increases in school spending have brought per-pupil spending back up. But this year’s average $6,776 remains $350 short of the record reached under Crist, now Scott’s leading Democratic opponent in this fall’s governor’s race.
Scott has included a few items in his budget that appear intended to take a swipe at Crist. His $401 million motorist fee cut is the most noteworthy, since it erases a fee hike signed into law by Crist. Monday afternoon, Scott planned to make an appearance in Miami to tout a sales-tax holiday on hurricane-related purchases, last deployed by the state when Crist was governor.
On schools, the record for per-pupil spending was something many thought Scott was aiming at.
Last year, Scott proposed a $1.2 billion boost in school spending, which would have increased per pupil spending by $412. But based on that math, the $542 million increase he recommended Monday is likely to bring per-pupil spending to just around $7,000 — still below the mark reached in the good times by his Democratic nemesis.