Dispatch #1 from the Crist Express

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The first state budget Gov. Rick Scott signed included $1.3 billion cut to public schools. Charlie Crist wants voters to remember that. Wednesday Crist launched a three-day education campaign swing from Tallahassee to Miami to compare his education budget while governor with Gov. Rick Scott’s.   Crist, now a Democrat trying to unseat Scott, noted when he led the state per-pupil spending, when adjusted for inflation, was higher than it is today.

(And) Rick Scott has a $2 billion surplus.  I don’t know how to paint a picture any more clearer than that,” said Crist.   “We don’t have a revenue problem we have a priority problem in Florida. The priority needs to be education. … There is a crystal clear distinction in this election between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist.”

And Republicans say there most certainly is. Rep. Matt Gaetz arrived at Crist’s Tallahassee event, shortly before the candidate, and explained to reporters that Scott was forced to cut education because Crist had left the state an economic mess. Furthermore, he argued that the strong leadership offered by Scott has led to an improved economy which enables lawmakers to spend more on education.

“In every single budget after Gov. Crist’s first budget he cut per pupil education funding.  Now since Gov. Scott’s first budget and every single budget we raised per pupil funding,” said Gaetz.  “In raw dollars we have never spent more on education than we do today.”

Per pupil spending did drop every year of the Crist administration but when adjusted for inflation the last budget Crist signed provided more spending power per student than the current Scott budget.

“We invested $1,200 more per child in education than Rick Scott has in his administration,” said Crist. “I don’t how to paint a picture any clearer than that.”

The $1,200 figure comes from a PolitiFact Florida analysis of education spending by the two administrations.

Crist’s bus tour includes another stop in Jacksonville today and then events in Orlando and Tampa Thursday and Miami, Friday. The campaign has dubbed the three day swing as a “Restore the Cuts” bus tour.