Tallahassee, FL -- Surrounded by educators and businessmen and women, Governor Rick Scott rolled out the spending plan he thinks Florida should use.
Scott's budget totaled $74.2 billion dollars. Highlights included $167 million to pay all qualifying state employees a $1200 incentive. A tax break on the purchase of equipment for manufacturing businesses, and more than $23 billion dollars to education funding including a call for $1.2 billion dollars more to be put into K-12 education.
"This budget is aimed at making strategic targeted investments to keep our economy on track and moving," said Scott.
The governor's budget could look very different by the end of legislative session. Even though there is an emphasis on education including providing the $480 million to provide an across the board pay raise to teachers, some local educators say it's still not enough.
"I think it's a great start," said Leon County Classroom Teachers Association President David Worrell. "But education has been suffering for years. It's been underfunded, there are a lot of state and federal mandates that have come along and burdened the system to the point that there's still a need for additional funding."
Florida's House Speaker Will Weatherford said in a press conference on Wednesday that if the governor wants another $1.2 billion for education, then there will have to be cuts somewhere else.
Governor's Press Office Release: Governor Rick Scott Unveils 2013-2014 Florida Families First Budget
Tallahassee, Fla. –Governor Rick Scott today unveiled his Florida Families First Budget for fiscal year 2013-2014. Governor Scott’s Florida Families First Budget includes $18.47 billion in total funding for K-12 education, an increase of $1.25 billion over last year’s budget, which also invested 1 billion in K-12 education. Governor Scott’s proposed budget also supports the elimination of tax barriers on manufacturers who buy equipment, which will help build up Florida’s manufacturing sector and create more jobs.
Governor Scott said, “My message is simple – everything we do in government must be focused on helping families pursue their dreams by getting a great job and accessing a quality education.
“Over the last two years, we made the tough choices to get our economy back on track. Through cost-savings efforts, we were able to cut taxes and eliminate regulations on businesses to help them succeed and create more jobs. As a result of our work over the last two years, we have created an environment where Florida’s private sector was able to create thousands of jobs. We have also had the second largest drop in our unemployment rate in the nation. The Sunshine State is now among the best states in the country for our drop in our unemployment rate. Florida’s economy is back on track.
“My Florida Families First 2013-2014 Recommended Budget includes an increase of $1.25 billion, or 7.3 percent, for K-12 public schools. This increase represents per student funding of $6,800, an increase of more than $400, or around 6.5 percent, over the current fiscal year. State funding for K-12 education totals $10.7 billion - the highest state funding level in history. Included in this historic total is $480 million to support $2,500 pay raises for Florida’s K-12 classroom teachers, plus the cost of associated benefits.
“Additionally, my budget focuses on building up our state’s manufacturing sector by eliminating the sales tax on manufacturers who buy equipment.
“I am proud of what we have accomplished already in the areas of jobs and education, but there is more work left to do. As long as even one Florida family is still struggling to find work or access a great education, our work is not done. This year, we will build on our successes through targeted investments that put Florida Families First.”