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Governor Rick Scott unveils new education budget

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Governor Scott on Monday unveiled his new education budget. This new budget increases spending to record levels and focuses on both students as well as teachers. In a released statement, Scott said, “We want to make sure that our students have every opportunity to succeed in the classroom and in their careers, and we want to make sure our teachers have every tool they need to make that possible.” The focus of Florida’s gubernatorial race has become education and the economy.

Last Thursday, Governor Scott released his education-funding proposal, which according to the Tampa Bay Times would total $19.6 billion or $7,176 per student. Scott has turned his attention to education spending because of increased growth of both jobs and the economy as a whole. The Governor has also proposed an increased in the award for teacher of the year, increasing from $10,000 to $20,000 as well as increasing the award for district teacher of the year to $10,000.

Scott has also called upon Education Commissioner Pam Stewart to do a “comprehensive investigation” into the use of standardized test. This investigation will look into why students need to take the tests, how long the students have to take these tests as well as a group of tests based on Common Core standards. Anti-common core supporters were less than impressed; Gary Fineout of the Associated Press calls this move “more of the same” saying it’s more lipstick on a pig. Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant attacked Scott’s Common Core reforms in a statement saying, “He’ll flip-flop again on Jeb Bush’s Common Core to pander to his Tea Party base. That’s why Floridians just don’t trust him, and that’s why he’s spent over a million dollars on polling to find out what to say.” Crist says he supports Common Core and pointed out Bush’s support saying “this represents, I think, an issue where we can put politics aside and do what’s right for our kids and have appropriate testing and not overtesting.”

During Scott’s announcement of his new budget he said, "Everyone in Florida deserves to live the American dream - and that starts with a great education," said Scott in a statement about the platform. "We want to make sure that our students have every opportunity to succeed in the classroom and in their careers, and we want to make sure our teachers have every tool they need to make that possible."

This budget proposal must now be approved by the Legislature, however they have often done what they believe is best, instead of supporting the Governor’s agenda. Former Governor Charlie Crist took a three-day campaign trip attacking Scott for cutting $1.3 billion from classrooms in Scott’s first year as Governor of Florida. During that trip, Crist promised to restore the cuts but refused to provide exact numbers.

Within the budget proposal is a plan to double Florida’s current $40 million dollars in digital learning programs. Along with Scott’s K-12 education reform, he also outlined in his speech a plan requiring colleges to inform students of the cost of course materials and publicly announce any planned price increases.

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