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Diving into Rick Scott’s “record spending” claims for Florida’s education system

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Governor Scott claimed "record spending" for education in Florida when he signed last year's (2017-'18) state budget, and he's claiming he's proposed "record spending" for next year, as well.

"We're going to have historic funding, for the sixth year in a row, for our education system across this state," Gov. Scott said Nov. 14 at his appearance at Northern Tool Company, where he was stumping for his next, and last, budget.

Are we really making "record investments" in K-12 education in Florida?

The answer depends on whether we are looking at "nominal dollars" or "real dollars." Nominally speaking, it's true that both the aggregate education budget and per pupil spending figures for 2017-'18 are bigger than the previous year's numbers. News reports indicate that the budget Gov. Scott signed on June 26 includes $100 more per student, bringing the base allocation or FEFP figure up from $7,196 last year to $7,296 for the upcoming year.

But does the $100 per pupil boost represent a significant increase for students? In real dollars, the answer is no.

In order to cover the costs associated with inflation, which are computed using the Consumer Price Index calculator from the U.S. Department of Labor, Florida would have had to have dedicated $7,313 per pupil in order to merely keep pace with last year.

It's bad enough that we've failed to maintain spending levels, in real dollars, over the course of one year. But the news gets much worse when we consider the entire past decade of per-pupil education spending.

In 2007, former governor Charlie Crist's education budget allotted $7,126 per pupil. According to the CPI calculator, it would cost $8,377.89 today to buy the same value that $7,126 bought in 2007. In real dollars, we're falling short of 2007 levels by $1,082.

In real dollars, Florida is going backwards in terms of education funding-and it's hurting our students.

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