JACKSONVILLE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Gov. Rick Scott on Monday proposed boosting the state budget by more than $1 billion in the year that begins July 1, saying the additional spending would help Florida prepare to weather the next recession.
Despite calling for slashing $1 billion in taxes, the spending plan Scott outlined in Jacksonville would increase the total price tag for state government to $79.3 billion, an increase from $78.2 billion in the budget year that ends June 30. In a brief speech, Scott touted his plans to cut taxes and spend on education and services for Floridians with disabilities.
He also pushed again for a plan to plow $250 million into a new “Florida Enterprise Fund” to give the state another tool to draw economic development projects.
Without mentioning them specifically, Scott pushed back against criticism from some lawmakers who have questioned the need for the increased economic-development funding.
“We’re competing. These are all competitive projects. … If we don’t have the money to invest, we’re not going to win,” Scott said.
Legislative leaders have also raised question about whether Scott’s tax-cut package, which he had already outlined before Monday’s event, was too large given pressures on the budget from areas like health care.
In education, Scott would try to revive a campaign promise to set a new record for per-student spending in public schools. His budget would set aside $7,221 per student, for a total of $20.2 billion. It would break the previous record for per-student funding, set nine years earlier, by $95.
Education advocates and critics, though, are likely to note that the new figure doesn’t account for inflation.
Continuing his stance from recent years, Scott’s budget also doesn’t include tuition increases for colleges or universities.
Scott’s administration also highlighted funding for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, saying the budget proposal would get rid of the waiting list for “critical needs” services, though that would still leave thousands of Floridians on a list for lower-priority services.
Lawmakers will begin considering Scott’s budget proposal during the legislative session that begins in January.
The News Service of Florida’s Brandon Larrabee contributed to this report.