<<<Continued From: Governor Rick Scott: Economy, Taxes, Regulations and Business, January 30, 2013, Remarks to Associated Press:
Florida Education Investment
Third, and finally, my other TOP PRIORITY in the upcoming budget and legislative session is FUNDING FOR EDUCATION.
As I said before, we had some hard choices to make in order to get our state back on track when I came into office. NOW, we are in a position to STRATEGICALLY INVEST in statewide priorities that will encourage job creation and economic growth for generations to come.
In government, there will always be more worthy causes than money to fund them.
Budgeting is an exercise of prioritizing.
In the upcoming budget, my priorities are JOBS AND EDUCATION.
The budget I announce tomorrow will include an increase of $1.2 billion in funding for K-12 public schools.
That’s right – a $1.2 billion increase in funding for K-12 public schools.
This total includes $10.7 billion in STATE FUNDING for Florida K-12 schools – the highest state funding level in HISTORY.
This funding commitment represents per student funding of around $6,800 – an increase of more than $400 per student, or around 6.5 percent, over the current fiscal year.
Our total budget for education also includes our $480 million commitment to give each and every classroom teacher a $2,500 pay raise, along with the cost of related benefits.
Investing in our TEACHERS and in our EDUCATION system is the KEY to our state’s continued economic growth.
We made the hard choices to recover and get back on track – now we must make the SMART choices to invest in Florida’s future.
In this budget, I am DOUBLING DOWN ON OUR INVESTMENT in K-12 education. This BILLION DOLLAR investment more than DOUBLES our BILLION DOLLAR investment from last year.
We are in a position to invest, and I can think of no better place to make such a major investment than in our Florida teachers and the FUTURE WORKFORCE they educate every day.
Some have argued that you can’t make this kind of investment in Florida teachers without losing teacher accountability and backing away from performance pay. I disagree. I support accountability and rewarding high-performing teachers; and I know our teachers do as well.
Our students and teachers were recently ranked 6th for educational quality. On a recent international reading survey, our fourth graders scored among the best in the world. And, the National Council on Teacher Quality ranked Florida teachers number one in the country on their 2012 survey.
Some say they are afraid that giving raises to all teachers may mean that a teacher doing a bad job gets rewarded. I have two things to say about this: FIRST – I have never met an educator who wants bad teachers to be rewarded. The educators and parents I talk to support accountability. They want to reward good teachers and move bad teachers out of the classroom. I agree with them. SECOND – Of all the things government funds, I am CERTAIN of the VALUE our teachers add to our state. Teachers change lives. They shape young minds and cultivate our future workforce.
I believe that we have to INVEST in the targeted areas where we want to encourage growth and IMPROVEMENT. Our teachers are training Florida’s future. The workers businesses will hire a decade from now are in K-12 classrooms today.
The two priorities of JOBS AND EDUCATION are directly connected. We want our kids to get a great education so they can get a great job. This is how we support the FUTURE of FLORIDA FAMILIES that were just like mine growing up – – we must DOUBLE DOWN on our investment in education to help our children compete and succeed in the global economy.
In conclusion, I want to stress again that eliminating the sales tax on manufacturing equipment, and our historic education investment, which is heavily tied to a $2,500 teacher pay raise, are my TOP TWO PRIORITIES this year.
I have great partners in Speaker Weatherford and President Gaetz who share the goal of moving our state forward and keeping our economy growing.
I’m sure that under their leadership, the legislature will take up many other worthy causes, and there will no doubt be some great debates; but, I am asking for the help of EVERY HOUSE AND EVERY SENATE MEMBER who will join with me in making these two STRATEGIC INVESTMENTS for the future of Florida families a reality this year.
Together, I know we can put Florida families first and put our state on track to increased economic growth and job creation.