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Scott proposes $542 million increase to education spending

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday made a pitch to increase public school spending by $542 million.

The proposed increase falls far short of the $1.2 billlion increase Scott recommended last year, despite the best budget outlook in recent memory.

Still, Scott said his latest recommendation would be enough to push education spending a record high of $18.84 billion.

“We need to provide the tools, training and funding to give our students the best chance for success,” Scott said in a statement.

Scott’s proposal includes:

  • $8.4 million in professional development for principals and assistant principals
  • $5 million to help teachers transition to the Florida Standards, new education benchmarks based on the Common Core State Standards
  • $3.59 billion for the state university system, including $40 million for performance-based incentives
  • $2 billion for state colleges

The governor is expected to release his entire budget proposal on Wednesday.

He has already said he will seek $30 million next year for a new workforce training initiative focusing on careers related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) occupations, as well as $130 million for Everglades-related projects.

The governor also wants to reduce taxes and fees by $500 million.

Observers have paid close attention to Scott’s proposals for public school spending.

In his first year in office, Scott proposed nearly $3.3 billion in cuts to education. About $1.2 billion of those cuts were included in the final budget for 2012.

One year later, Scott recommended an injection of about $1 billion.

He recommended another $1.2 billion be added to the 2014 education budget. Lawmakers ultimately agreed to add $1 billion, including $480 million that was set aside for teacher raises.

On Monday, Education Commissioner Pam Stewart praised Scott’s latest spending plan.

“This historic commitment to our schools will only improve our state’s reputation as the national leader as the ideal location to learn, work and live,” she said.