Gov. Rick Scott proposes largest budget in Florida history at $74.2 billion

Herald/Times Tallahassee BureauJanuary 31, 2013 

TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday unveiled details of a $74.2 billion budget proposal — the largest in Florida history.

Scott, who is seeking re-election in 2014, proposes to increase spending statewide by $4 billion, including $1.25 billion more for education. Much of that would cover a $2,500 teacher pay raise and a pension fund contribution that won’t be felt in classrooms.

“It’s the right thing to do for our children,” Scott said of his spending plan as he stood at a lectern adorned with his budget logo, “Florida Families First.”

As a candidate in 2010, Scott campaigned on a promise to shrink government, and his first budget in 2011 cut school spending by $1.3 billion. But his spending plan contains one of the biggest one-year increases in spending in Florida history.

At a press conference in the state Capitol, Scott was surrounded by educators, including UF President Bernie Machen and USF President Judy Genshaft, college presidents, teachers and school superintendents.

“It’s an excellent budget,” said Wayne Blanton of the Florida School Boards Association. But he said Scott should not be including a $297 million contribution to the state pension fund as more money for education because that money stays in Tallahassee.

“We’ll see if we can get the Legislature to take that out,” Blanton said.

Scott’s budget would cut the state workforce by 3,647 more jobs, or 3 percent. It provides no money for the expansion of Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act because of unanswered questions, Scott said.

“Today is not the day for that decision,” Scott said. “We still have many questions unanswered.”

Scott’s proposals will begin to be scrutinized next week by state legislators, who write the budget that will take effect July 1.

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