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House education allocation includes $1B increase to school spending

House Education Appropriations Chairman Erik Fresen has his budget allocation, and it includes a $1 billion hike to public-school spending, he said.

"Per-student funding will absolutely go up in my budget," Fresen said Monday, adding that it was too soon to know exactly how much per-pupil spending would rise.

The House education allocation puts $10.57 billion in state revenue toward public schools, slightly less than the $10.7 billion Gov. Rick Scott has suggested in his proposed budget. Public schools would receive another $630 million in trust-fund money.

As for the controversial $2,500 across-the-board teacher pay raises Scott considers among his top priorities?

"In my allocation, I should have enough money to be able to thoughtfully address additions to teacher salaries," Fresen said. 

But Fresen wouldn't say how much would go toward teacher raises, or how the House would distribute the money. Fresen has expressed reservations about across-the-board salary increases; he is a strong supporter of merit pay.

On the higher-education front, Fresen said the House allocation includes enough money to restore a controversial $300 million cut made to universities last year. All told, universities would get $3.4 billion in general revenue and $867 million in trust-fund money.

House members will now work to craft the education budget.

The Senate Education Appropriations Committee will get its own allocation and draw up its own proposal.