Joshua Gillin
By Joshua Gillin March 28, 2016

Legislature brings spending up to Scott's desired level

It took a couple of rounds with a combative Legislature, but Gov. Rick Scott has met his stated goal of raising per-pupil education spending — with $2 to spare!

In his second budget proposal after his re-election, Scott asked lawmakers in November 2015 to boost K-12 spending to $7,221 per student, which would have been a historically high amount. Legislators seemed content to increase the budget, although they disagreed over the way to do it and by how much.

Scott wanted most of that increase to come from property taxes through a form of funding called the Required Local Effort. The House and Senate rejected that method, reaching a deal to fund the difference with state general revenue. They kept property tax revenue the same by dropping the millage rate. (You can read more about that in this fact check.)

Scott promised to increase per-pupil spending to $7,176 while running for re-election, but the Legislature stopped short of that goal in 2015.

This year, the Legislature approved a $20.15 billion K-12 budget that broke down to $7,178 per student, reaching the total Scott outlined in his campaign promise. This total may adjust slightly as the Department of Education recalculates actual spending periodically through the year based on needs and enrollment, but Tallahassee has agreed upon the general dollar amount.

That's the most ever spent per student by the state of Florida, topping by $50 the previous high of $7,126 set by former Gov. Charlie Crist back in the 2007-2008 fiscal year. Those dollars also aren't going as far as they used to: Adjusting for inflation, per-pupil spending would have to be about $8,150 in 2016 to keep up with Crist's 2007 high.

Education spending has been below that in the intervening years, including a big drop as the state was mired in recession. Scott came into office in 2011 wanting even more cuts than what was passed, but his proposed slashing was tempered by the Legislature.  

Here's a look at education budgets over the last few years to give you an idea of where education spending has been:

Fiscal year (governor)

Total K-12 budget

Per-pupil spending

K-12 enrollment

2007-08 (Crist)

$18.7 billion


2.63 million

2008-09 (Crist)

$17.9 billion


2.62 million

2009-10 (Crist)*

$18 billion


2.63 million

2010-11 (Crist)*

$18.2 billion


2.64 million

2011-12 (Scott)

$16.6 billion


2.67 million

2012-13 (Scott)

$17.2 billion


2.70 million

2013-14 (Scott)

$18.3 billion


2.705 million

2014-15 (Scott)

$18.9 billion


2.74 million

2015-16 (Scott)

$19.7 billion


2.77 million

2016-17 (Scott)

$20.15 billion


2.8 million (projected)

The education budget is included in the appropriations bill the Legislature voted to approve on March 11, 2016. Scott signed the budget into law on March 17.

We consider this a Promise Kept.

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman December 28, 2015

Scott's latest budget proposes funding boost

Gov. Rick Scott's budget proposal for the 2016-17 school year would help him achieve one of his key education promises from his re-election campaign: boosting K-12 per pupil spending to an all-time high per pupil funding level of $7,176.

On Nov. 23, 2015, Scott released his budget proposal, which sets aside $7,221 per student. That amount is about $116 higher than 2015-16, and would put Scott above the record amount in 2007-08 under his predecessor Gov. Charlie Crist. But it comes with an important caveat: the majority of the extra funding would come through local property taxes -- not state coffers.

This is Scott's second attempt at achieving this promise since his 2014 re-election. In 2015, he proposed a per pupil amount of $7,176, but that didn't end up being a priority for the Legislature during a contentious session that ended abruptly amid a fight over Medicaid expansion. In the end, the budget Scott signed ultimately resulted in a per-pupil amount of about $7,105.

The state Legislature convenes Jan. 12 for a 60-day session, so we won't know the final outcome of the education budget until March. For now, we rate this promise In the Works.

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman February 25, 2015

Rick Scott's budget proposal includes hike in per pupil spending

After overseeing $1.3 billion in K-12 education cuts in his first year in office in 2011, Gov. Rick Scott drew criticism for Florida's lack of investment in public schools. He later supported increases to K-12 education and vowed in his second campaign that he would up his investment even more. His most recent budget proposal takes steps to do that, including meeting a campaign goal of spending $7,176 per student.

On Jan. 28, Scott released his $77 billion budget proposal, which spends most of the $1 billion surplus on tax cuts and an increase in education spending. Scott proposed $19.75 billion for K-12, up from about $18.9 billion in the current budget. That includes $7,176 per pupil, which is about a $261 increase compared to the current year.

Local taxpayers will help foot that bill. The Tampa Bay Times reported that while the state will kick in $391 million, Scott's education spending plan relies on a $452 million increase in revenue that will be financed by keeping the local property tax rate of 5.089 the same. While that's not a rate increase, most homeowners will pay more as their values rise.

Scott's per pupil proposal is a record high -- but not if adjusted for inflation compared to the 2007-08 school year. His proposed figure is about $640 short of the high watermark, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index inflation calculator.

Although the amount is not as high if adjusted for inflation, the increase is still significant because it is a "substantial increase" compared to the current year, said Ruth Haseman Melton, government relations director for the Florida School Boards Association.

"He is making an honest effort to follow through on what he promised," she said.

We won't know the outcome of Scott's education proposal until the state Legislature takes action -- the session starts March 3. For now, we rate this promise In the Works.

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