"In spite of this bleak budget picture, I am committed to increasing Florida's investment in the education of our young people."
-- hospital grifter Governor Rick Scott
Well, that's a doggone relief! Of course, if hospital grifter Florida Governor Rick Scott says he's serious about increasing the investment in young people, then well, by golly, he must mean it!
- For the 2012-13 school year, we anticipate an increase of more than 30,000 students. At the current funding level of about $6,262 per student, Florida will need to spend about $191 million more on education than we are this school year.
- Florida’s growing student population comes at a time when we also estimate a three percent loss of local revenue, meaning Florida school districts will have over $200 million less to spend.
- Add to this deficit the discontinuation of $554.8 million in federal funds to Florida school districts this year.
- In addition, we will have to overcome the challenge of losing $224 million in one-time funding from the State of Florida.
When you take these four factors into consideration, we anticipate a total budget gap of about $1.2 billion for Florida schools. In spite of this bleak budget picture, I am committed to increasing Florida’s investment in the education of our young people. As I see it, investing in education provides a return on investment we simply cannot ignore.
Interesting. And maybe even true!
So... where will the governor find $1.2 billion bucks? He doesn't actually say, which is tantamount to me telling you I'm going to buy a Lamborghini, and when you ask me with what money, I simply wander off muttering to myself about horsepower and Italian leather.
We've gone over this before. You got a budget hole to fill, you have pretty much two choices: increase revenue (that is to say, raise taxes) or cut something else.
You get one guess which way Scott is going:
Without raising taxes, Scott said today he'll find additional money for schools by squeezing state agencies and other areas of the budget where he will "make choices" to spend less.
"I've asked all of our agencies to tighten their belts, just like all Floridians have. I'm going to have to make choices. But I want to make sure that our children, our students, can get the education they need to get a job," he said.
In other words, eff you, government workers!
Look, I'm not going to lie to you: I appreciate the Governor's sentiment with respect to children and education. I really do -- all snark aside.
But let's not kid ourselves about the kids: this is a whole lot more about politics (and Scott approaching a re-election here in Florida) than it is about our deteriorating situation with respect to children and education. A 26% approval rating? Time to bring out the issues people care about!
As Gov. Rick Scott gets around the state, one message from Floridians comes through loud and clear.
"They care about education," Scott says.
Yeah, no kidding.
This governor, who sought a 10 percent cut in school spending a year ago, appears to have learned an important lesson: No matter how bad the economy gets, cutting money for schools never seems popular.
Also no kidding.
But while we're lauding the governor for learning "an important lesson," let's also not forget that this is the same guy who served turkey with one hand, and offered the (proverbial) smack-down with the other.
Rick Scott, the turkey-server:
“I care completely about all these [homeless] programs. All the programs are very important, but nobody wants their taxes to go up. They’ve [businesses] got to grow. We’ve got to make this a place people can do well.”
Rick Scott, the turkey:
One Jacksonville homeless shelter official noted that Scott “zeroed out all homeless funding” — $7 million worth — in his budget proposal. That funding supported programs dedicated to homelessness prevention, housing initiatives, and programs that “re-house” people once they’re on the street. “Not only that, he took out the line items so it can never be funded again,” said the official.
To show how much he cares about the homeless, Scott went further by vetoing $12 million in funding that state legislature had passed to support homeless veterans. There are an estimated 17,000 homeless veterans in Florida — the second highest in the nation. Overall, a record 17.2 million Americans went hungry last year.
Good luck on the education thing, fellow Floridians. We're going to need it.