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Gov. Scott will seek $1.2 billion more for schools

Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday he will ask the Legislature to increase funding for public schools by $1.2 billion next year. But a third of that money would pay for an across-the-board teacher pay hike and nearly $300 million more would pay down part of the unfinded liability in the state pension system.

Speaking to the annual AP news forum in Tallahassee, Scott presented a case that Florida's economy has steadily improved under his direction and that now is the time to "strategically invest" in public education.

Scott will make his full budget recommendations to the Legislature at the state Capitol Thursday.

Speaking from a prepared text, Scott defended his proposal to give all public school teachers a $2,500 across-the-board raise, which has come under fire from legislative leaders who say it should be tied to classroom performance.

"I have never met an educator who wants bad teachers to be rewarded," Scott said. "The educators that I know support accountability."

Scott also listed as a top priority the elimination of the sales tax on manufacturers' equipment purchases, which he said would save businesses $144 million in taxes.

-- Steve Bousquet

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