In election-year maneuver, Rick Scott announces his budget will boost per-pupil spending to “highest in Florida history”

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Gov. Rick Scott is proposing a $19.6 billion public school budget for next year. Scott, who has been hammered by Democratic challenger Charlie Crist over education spending, is proposing a $232 increase in per student funding to a record amount of $7,176, or a $50 increase over the previous record in 2007 when Crist was governor.

“My mom taught me that a good education was the way out of poverty and I want all Floridians to have the opportunity to receive a great education and have their shot at the American Dream,” said Scott. “By increasing per pupil spending to historic levels next year, school districts will have more resources to provide Florida children the best education possible.”

This year’s budget spends $18.9 billion on K-12 or $6,937 per student, up $176 from last year but below what the state spent before the Great Recession.

“No right-minded parent or teacher in this state believes Rick Scott, the same guy who cut education by $1.3 billion, cares about anything but holding onto power so he can keep giving away our tax dollars to corporations,” said Brendan Gilfillan,  communications director for the Crist campaign.   “He admits that Charlie Crist holds the arecord for per student funding, almost $200 higher than what Rick Scott is spending despite Scott collecting billions more in taxes.

Last week, Crist traveled the state in a yellow school bus to recalling attention to Scott’s first budget in 2011 which cut $1.3 billion from public schools.  School teachers served as a backdrop for Crist’s news conferences in five cities.

“The governor has a record on spending for public education and it isn’t pretty,” said Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association, in response to Scott’s announcement. “The proposal, which would have to be approved by the Legislature long after the November election, seems very much like a desperate attempt to win votes to cover his record of neglect of public schools.”