House education budget in line with Rick Scott’s

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House budget-writers are ready to go along with Gov. Scott’s move to boost state spending on elementary and secondary education, making it likely that the state’s contribution could swell by more than $1 billion despite the shortfall confronting lawmakers, reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida.

The House shoveled an extra $1.1 billion into the budget for the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee budget and provided for a per-student increase in the main formula for school funding requested by Scott. Spending will edge up $2.27 a head, or about $141.30 for each student.

“That’s not a lot,” said Subcommittee Chairwoman Marti Coley, R-Marianna. “But in a time when everyone’s talking about reducing, an increase is remarkable.”

Scott has made the increase in education funding a centerpiece of his 2012 legislative agenda, telling lawmakers he won’t sign a budget that doesn’t significantly boost money for public schools. The Senate has historically supported higher funding for education, and leaders there have indicated they will set aside at least as much as Scott requested.

Not all of the $1 billion, though, would increase the per-student cost. Some of it would go to filling a hole in the budget created by declining local property taxes; those revenues are expected to decline by $247.7 million. And Scott’s plan has already come under fire for using a dramatic reduction in and hospital rates under Medicaid to bankroll the education increase while closing a $2 billion shortfall.

Rep. Marty Kiar, D-Davie, quizzed Coley on the source of the funds for education, saying the governor’s proposal “would have hurt the most vulnerable” in order to boost spending on schools.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.