TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Governor Rick Scott says he has been listening to Floridians and they’ve been telling him they want more money spent on schools. He’s proposing a billion more. That works out to just about $100 dollars a year more per student.
"I will not sign the budget if it does not significantly increase the funding for education," Scott said. "Now, I know this will require difficult choices."
With the crime rate at a 40-year low, Scott would pay for the additional school stipend by closing several prisons, and drastically limiting how much the state will pay hospitals for treating the poor.
"Medicaid growth is at 180 percent," Scott said. "General revenue growth is 30. You can’t do that."
Scott is asking every agency of government to trim their belts by four percent. And the state would shed 1,700 vacant, and 2,800 jobs that are filled. Some health insurance benefits would cost more. Scott says funding for universities will remain flat.
"With level funding of the universities, they shouldn’t be increasing tuition," Scott said.
Even if Rick Scott gets everything he wants for education, Florida schools will still be $300 million dollars shy of where they were when he took office.
Advocates for children like the increase for schools, but still worry.
"Is he making the same investments in the child’s life outside the classroom?" Roy Miller with the Children’s Campaign said.
State lawmakers have the final say on spending.
Scott is sending an early signal that he wants the cash for schools or lawmakers may find themselves in overtime.
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