In keeping his pledge to add $1 billion to the K-12 education budget, Governor Rick Scott signed the 2012-13 state budget today while visiting Cunningham Creek Elementary School in St. Johns County. Governor Scott made $1 billion in additional education funding the centerpiece of his legislative agenda this year.
"Over the last year I have traveled the state to hear from Floridians what issues they care about most. That's why this budget should be known as an education budget," Governor Scott said. "The two issues that Floridians care most about are jobs and education, and the two go hand-in-hand since a good education is critical to getting a good job."
Governor Scott thanked Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon for their leadership in including the new funding in the budget. The $1 billion allows for:
* A $405 million increase in per-student funding or roughly $150 per student.
* An extra $47 million for enhanced reading programs.
* $663 million to fill funding gaps due to the influx of 31,000 expected new students next year and lower property taxes.
* Funding that will enable districts to reward the best teachers.
The 2012-13 budget makes ends meet in spite of a budget gap in excess of $1 billion, on top of a $3.7-billion gap during the current budget year. Governor Scott vetoed $142.7 million from the budget, adding to Florida's reserves.
"Education is the key to Florida's long-term prosperity, so we had to find a way to pass the critical increase in education funding in the budget," Governor Scott said. "The increase in education funding, paired with my 2012 Job Creation and Economic Growth Agenda and auto insurance fraud reform, are all steps on the road to making Florida the greatest state in the nation to live, work and play."
Later today, Governor Scott will hold a ceremonial bill signing ceremony during a visit to the Margaret K. Lewis School in Panama City. Tomorrow, he will hold similar ceremonies at Tangelo Park Elementary School in Orlando and Rampello Downtown Partnership K-8 Magnet School in Tampa.