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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.

Our Sources

Tampa Bay Times Gradebook blog, "House, Senate close to deal on K-12 funding that avoids hike on local tax dollars," Feb. 27, 2016

Politico Florida, "Final budget includes $32 B. in state, local funds for education," March 8, 2016

Florida House of Representatives, "Public School Funding: The Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) Fiscal Year 2016-2017," March 8, 2016

Gov. Rick Scott, "Governor Rick Scott Announces the Florida First Budget," March 15, 2016

Florida TaxWatch, "2016 Tax Cut Package Agreement," accessed March 15, 2016

Florida Senate, HB 5001, accessed March 15, 2016

Florida House of Representatives, HB 5001 text, accessed March 15, 2016

Florida Department of Education, "Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) Calculations," accessed March 15, 2016

PolitiFact Florida, "Legislature provided $428 million worth of property tax relief, Sen. Don Gaetz says," March 17, 2016

Tampa Bay Times, "Gov. Rick Scott signs record $82 billion budget in speedy fashion," March 17, 2016

Interview with Lauren Schenone, Scott spokeswoman, March 15, 2016

Interview with Cheryl Etters, Florida Department of Education spokeswoman, March 15-16, 2016

Interview with Renee Watters, Florida Department of Revenue spokeswoman, March 15-16, 2016

Interview with Katie Betta, Florida Senate communications director, March 16, 2016

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.

Our Sources

Florida Department of Education, "Florida Education Finance Program Second Calculation," July 16, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott, Florida First budget, Nov. 23, 2015

Palm Beach Post, "Who won, who lost in 2015 session," Accessed in Nexis, June 22, 2015

Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times, "Florida lawmakers pledge $396 million toward helping hospitals treat poor Floridians," June 6, 2015

Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times, "Gov. Scott proposes $77 billion budget with $673 million in tax cuts," Jan. 29, 2015

Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times, "Rick Scott proposes 'historic' increase in Florida education spending," Jan. 12, 2015

Sarasota Tribune, "Still behind funding curve | With Scott's proposed increase, state would still lag most others," Accessed in Nexis, Nov. 26, 2015

PolitiFact Florida, "Rick Scott says K-12 education funding is highest in Florida's history," Oct. 15, 2015

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.

Our Sources

Florida Department of Education, Florida Education Finance Program 2014-15 Third Calculation, Dec. 18, 2014

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Education budget proposal, January 2015

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, 2015-16 budget proposal, January 2015

Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times, "Gov. Scott proposes $77 billion budget with $673 million in tax cuts," Jan. 29, 2015

Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times, "Rick Scott proposes 'historic' increase in Florida education spending," Jan. 12, 2015

Interview, Cheryl Etters, Florida Department of Education spokeswoman, Feb. 2, 2015

Interview, Ruth Haseman Melton, director of government relations Florida School Boards Association, Jan. 12, 2015

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