Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) last week unveiled what he’s dubbed his “education and jobs budget.” “I have heard loud and clear that Floridians want their money spent on education and jobs, without additional burdens on families and businesses, and this budget accomplishes that,” Scott said.
Scott’s budget does indeed increase education funding in the Sunshine State by $1 billion over last year (while cutting Medicaid by more than twice that amount). However, Scott should be far from proud about this accomplishment, because, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted, that extra money still leaves Florida’s education funding significantly below where it was before the onslaught of the Great Recession:
After adjusting for inflation, Governor Scott’s proposal translates into a $59 per-pupil increase in combined state and local education funding. That’s far from enough to counteract the $823 per-pupil decline in funding that hit schools this year, and even further from restoring all the cuts that the state imposed since the recession started. Under the governor’s proposal, per-pupil state and local funding for education would remain over $1,300 or 17 percent below the pre-recession level of five years ago.
Florida is hardly alone in this regard. In fact, 30 states are now spending less on education than they were in 2008. In ten of those states — South Carolina, Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Utah — funding has been cut more than 10 percent below where it was before the recession. But Scott shouldn’t be parading around his education funding increase as if its a huge favor to Florida’s teachers and schoolchildren, as they’re already making do with far less than they were just a few years ago.