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Scott pushes for $542M education budget increase


Florida Governor Rick Scott gave an announcement Monday, two days before he will layout plans for the next fiscal year’s budget, that brought relief to many educators across the state: he would add $542 million to the education budget. 

Three years after his initial dramatic cuts to education, in which $1.3 billion was cut from education – including $300 million to higher education – the restoration follows a gradual softening of his stance on funding for education.  

Over the course of the last two springs, $2 billion has been re-injected into the education budget. 

Of the proposed $18.84 billion to be dedicated to education, $3.6 billion will be marked for the State University System, of which $40 million will go toward performance-based funding, or funding which is dependent on the basis of the own improvement or how it competes with other universities.

USF administrators remained cautiously optimistic last week, prior to the announcement, at a Faculty Senate meeting. 

“We do know that the governor is very, very strong, and so is the Board of Governors (BOG), on not allowing tuition increases and no fee increases,” USF President Judy Genshaft said. 

But Genshaft said she thought the university was well positioned for performance-based funding.  

Last year, USF and UCF took the biggest shares from the performance-based pool, but at the last BOG meeting, they approved a funding model that would allow for more of the Legislature’s base funding to be performance-driven as well. 

USF Provost Ralph Wilcox said the change seemed unprecedented, but one that would increase accountability of universities.

“Our elected officials have not seemed fit to delegate control over base budgets of universities to anyone other than themselves (until now),” he said. “…(Performance funding) is going to change behavior in Florida. It’s playing catch-up with the rest of the country.”

– Staff report