What They’re Saying: Rick Scott’s $74.2 Billion Agenda 'Is All About Growth'
Around the State
What are business, government and education leaders saying about Gov. Rick Scott's proposed a $74.2 billion budget for legislators to hash over that reflects a 5.7 percent hike from the current year?
Timothy J. Stapleton, executive vice president of the Florida Medical Association
“The FMA is thrilled that Governor Scott has made graduate medical education a priority in his budget recommendations. The proposed increase in GME funding would ensure more residency slots in Florida and, in turn, encourage physicians to remain in Florida once they complete their training. The governor clearly understands the importance of having a substantial supply of physicians to meet the increasing health care needs of Florida’s families. His commitment to GME funding will pay dividends to the state of Florida for years to come.”
Matt Puckett, Florida PBA executive director
"We appreciate the governor's acknowledgement that the officers deserve a reward for their outstanding accomplishments. But we believe base salary increases are long overdue. Some officers have gone six years without a wage increase due to state budget constraints -- not poor performance. Therefore, although we appreciate the gesture, we are going to pursue salary increases through the legislative budgeting process. We are hopeful that the governor will have a change of opinion and support our efforts."
Tom Feeney, president and CEO, Associated Industries of Florida
“Governor Scott’s budget proposal is all about growth -- it plants the seeds of opportunity that will enable Florida businesses to grow and flourish, particularly industries critical to Florida’s future such as manufacturing.
“Shedding additional tax burdens will enable Florida manufacturers to be more competitive, and put more money into business expansion and high-wage job creation. Manufacturing is making a rebound and, in Florida, this industry has unparalleled job creation potential given its impressive history of creating three indirect jobs for every direct job.
“Strategic infrastructure investments, from road building projects to improvements of our ports, not only create an immediate influx of new jobs, they also make the state a more attractive location for new businesses. Governor Scott’s proposal to invest substantially in infrastructure surrounding our ports will draw more manufacturing business to Florida.”
Florida Forever Coalition
“The governor’s Florida Forever budget recommendation is a positive step forward for Florida. His $75 million recommendation puts Florida Forever back on the right track. With the economy recovering, it is important to allocate funds to preserve our state’s natural areas and protect the places that make Florida special. We look forward to working alongside the governor this legislative session to advocate for the appropriation of funds for Florida Forever.”
Scott's spending plan calls for:
-- $18.47 billion for K-12 education, a $1.25 billion increase from the current year, including $2,500 pay hikes for teachers.
-- Per student funding grows to $6,799, up $412 from the current year.
-- $100 million for charter schools capital needs.
-- A $74.4 million increase for the state college system, to $1.1 billion.
-- A $393.3 million increase for the state University System, to $3.85 billion, including $15 million for the University of Florida to achieve a national top 10 ranking.
-- A 3.1 percent reduction in state workers.
-- A $1,200 bonus for state workers that have received satisfactory evaluations.
-- Visit Florida funding at $75 million, a $31.5 million increase.
-- Space Florida funding at $20 million, up $16 million.
-- Enterprise Florida funding at $21.2 million, up $5.2 million.
-- Quick Response Training funding at $12 million, up $6 million.
-- $116 million for Medicaid to cover the currently eligible population in Medicaid who are not enrolled, while cutting other hospital and Medicaid services.
-- A 2.1 percent increase to public safety, to $4.7 billion, with no prison closings planned.
-- An 11.22 percent increase for transportation projects; the $8.3 billion for transportation includes $3.6 billion for highway construction, $144 million for county transportation projects, $288 million for sea ports, $169 million for aviation, $160 million for roads, and $20 million for Space Florida.
Driver licenses offices would be closed -- a $972,153 savings -- in Gainesville, Sebring, Lakeland, Clermont, Okeechobee, Orlando, Haines City and Winter Springs.
Lauren Book, M.S. ED Founder and CEO of Lauren's Kids and Jennifer Dritt, executive director of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence
"By including a $2.5 million appropriation to reduce the wait for services at Florida’s rape crisis centers, Governor Rick Scott has made it a clear priority to support and help heal victims of sexual assault. We know the societal costs of untreated childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault is enormous, including poor school performance, mental health problems, failed relationships, inability to hold a job and loss of productivity. Currently, sexual abuse and assault victims wait up to two months for services. This appropriation will allow Florida’s network of rape crisis centers to provide critical counseling and support services immediately. We applaud the governor’s leadership and vision in addressing this pressing problem and helping victims get the services they so vitally need."
Commissioner of Education Tony Bennett
“This level of commitment to education sends a clear message that Governor Scott is committed to ensuring that children across our state have access to a high-quality education. Children are our most precious resource. They are tomorrow’s leaders. Investing in their education today helps ensure a successful tomorrow for them, for their families, and for our state.”
Public Schools Chancellor Pam Stewart
“Parents want their children to have the best education available. This is also true for teachers and students,” said Chancellor Stewart. “The governor’s budget for education builds upon what we heard as we traveled the state. This budget addresses issues that are important to parents, teachers, and students, which reflects a strong commitment to K-12 funding.”
Pinellas County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Grego
“We’re grateful to Governor Scott for his proposed $1.2 billion increase in education funding, which will further the efforts of the dedicated professionals across our state who work closest to our students. We’re also grateful to the governor for his personal outreach to our district and the visit he paid us last week to observe firsthand the results those dedicated professionals are achieving in the classroom.”
Alex Lopes, Florida Teacher of the Year, Carol City Elementary School in Miami-Dade County
“Florida’s teachers work tirelessly every day to make sure each student in their classroom is getting a quality education and is progressing on the path for success in college and career. I am pleased that Governor Rick Scott recognizes the value of the teaching profession by proposing that every full-time classroom teacher receive a $2,500 salary increase.”
Florida College System Chancellor Randy Hanna
“The Florida College System has been nationally recognized for providing individuals with access to high-quality, low-cost educational opportunities. The governor’s budget shows how the system will make continued improvements and build on existing strengths to become the national leader in higher education performance.”
St. Johns River State College President Joe Pickens
“The Florida College System strives to be first in the nation in the areas of college and career readiness, success and completion, access and affordability, and accountability. The requested funding will help the Florida College System be the leader in postsecondary education performance while meeting the needs of the state of Florida and our local communities.”
Scott Howat, chairman of the District Board of Trustees of Seminole State College
"The requested funding for the Florida College System will help our colleges be first in the country in postsecondary education performance. Increased performance will provide students in Florida with even greater access to quality educational opportunities."
FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad
“By expanding capacity, relieving congestion and moving people and freight more efficiently, we create a state that keeps down the cost of living for our citizens and makes Florida the best place to live, work and visit.”
Florida Transportation Builders Association President Bob Burleson
“This is great news for the economy. I appreciate Governor Scott’s leadership in recognizing the importance of transportation in moving Florida forward.”
Florida Ports Council President Doug Wheeler
“Strategic investments in freight infrastructure and incentives to attract manufacturing are critical to Florida’s ability to create jobs and further grow our economy. Governor Scott’s proposed budget builds on his work thus far to put Floridians back to work, and will position Florida as a global hub for business.”
MaryEllen Elia, superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools
"I know it's early in the process, but the laser focus on education is incredibly encouraging. The governor recognizes that our economic future is tied to education, and he's proposing a very wise investment in the future of our state."
President of Broward College J. David Armstrong Jr.
“Governor Scott has taken clear action in this budget to provide a much-needed funding boost for our state colleges, and bringing many colleges who have in recent years fallen behind in legislative funding closer to those who are funded at the top.”
Dr. Carol F. Probstfeld, president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota
“We appreciate the governor’s recognition of the quality, cost-effectiveness and creativity of the State College System to provide educational opportunities in our community. We welcome his commitment to funding deferred maintenance, achieving equity in the system, rewarding performance and creating opportunities for innovation.”
University of Florida professor Tom Dana
“Florida students have already demonstrated that they can compete with their international counterparts. However, to stay competitive it is essential that we embrace new technology designed to increase student learning potential.”
Florida State Board of Education Chairman Gary Chartrand
“Investing in Florida’s children is investing in our future. Proposing a $1.2 billion increase in education over last year’s budget shows that Governor Scott recognizes just how important it is to prepare our students for success in college, career and life. Florida has made significant progress over the past decade and the governor’s budget will help us continue in the right direction.”
Dr. Dennis Gallon, president of Palm Beach State College
“The proposal to create and fund new workforce programs addresses the college’s desire to add programs, while we struggle with finding the dollars for equipment and faculty. Palm Beach State has experienced huge growth in our manufacturing programs, for example, and would look forward to expanding those, adding new connected programs, and creating more STEM programs. Finally, the college is a significant player in teacher education in our county, and is intrigued by the idea of becoming one of the governor’s new teachers' colleges, with the mission of redesigning teacher education.”
Reach Jim Turner at email@example.com or at (772) 215-9889.