With friends like Rick Scott, education needs no enemies

From Scathing Purple Musings

by Bob Sykes

And he vowed to not sign any plan which doesn’t go along with it either: Writes excellent Associated Press reporter Gary Fineout:

TALLAHASSEE – Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who was criticized for pushing school funding cuts a few months ago, is asking for a billion dollars more for education to come during an election year.

Scott on Wednesday will introduce a budget for 2012 that calls for increasing the amount spent on the state’s nearly 2.7 billion public school students by slightly more than $100 each and more than $1 billion overall.

While the overall amount per student is not going up that much, it marks a dramatic change for the Republican governor.

Scott recommended a 10 percent cut in February and then signed into law a budget that reduced school funding by $1.3 billion. The real-life effect was softened somewhat because teachers were forced to start picking up part of the cost of their pension that had been paid by school districts.

But Scott told Florida’s public school superintendents that after meeting with teachers, students and parents the last few months he has decided to make education a top priority for his next budget.

Scott even vowed that he will not sign a new budget into law unless lawmakers go along with his plan to increase spending on schools.

“I’m allocating dollars to education and I’m telling them I’m not signing a budget unless it is has a significant increase for education,” Scott said on a conference call.

Hmmmmm. Fineout shrewdly points out that this represents a quick change of heart for Scott He also indicated that Scott’s move could be one based in cynicism and can be attributed to his poor polling numbers.

Last May Scott vetoed a record $615 million from this year’s budget and called on lawmakers to take the savings and plow them back into education. But at the time his suggestion was rejected by Republicans. House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, even said he was surprised by the “governor’s sudden emphasis” on public schools.

Scott’s decision to call for more school funding in May came after a stretch that saw his poll numbers plunge.

Scott on Tuesday called on school superintendents to support his budget by being vocal with state legislators in the weeks ahead. Legislators will start their annual session in January.

Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales and Senate budget chief, said that he agreed with Scott that lawmakers should make additional money for schools one of their top budget items.

“It’s important to the people of Florida and for our future,” Alexander said. “I will support his efforts to do that and I will work with him to accomplish it.”

There’s still plenty for opponents of Scott’s proposal in particular and school reform in general. He plans on getting savings by further cutting benefits of state workers. Scott also wants parent trigger legislation – now re-packaged as a “parent union bill’ by its main catalyst Parent Revolution . Scott also is likely to sign a bill which would further advance the tax credit scholarship program.

So Scott’s getting to have to both ways. On the surface, he’s showing he’s bullish on public schools with an increase in funding. But under radar he’s advancing legislation that will further undermine and weaken them.


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