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Scott proposes $1.2 billion more for K-12 public schools

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Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday that he will ask the legislature for a $1.2 billion boost in public education funding for the next fiscal year.

The proposition comes after cutting K-12 spending by $1.3 billion two years ago and adding less than $1 billion back last year.

Scott spoke at the annual Associated Press news forum Wednesday. He said that under his direction, Florida’s economy has steadily improved and that it is now time to “strategically invest” in public education.

Scott also proposed a $2,500 raise for full-time teachers, which will be tied to classroom performance.

Alachua County School Board member Eileen Roy said after years of underfunding, every little bit helps students, support-staff and teachers.

Roy says teacher salaries have not increased in years, and at the beginning of this school year, salaries instead decreased.

“Our teachers are working harder for less money,” Roy said. “We really need to give them something to show that we value them, which we do.”

But legislative leaders are cautious.

House Speaker Will Weatherford said legislators shouldn’t jump on the current surplus so soon.

“We do have more revenue, but let me be clear,” Weatherford said. “Our budget surplus is breathing room. It’s not enough room to put your feet up on the couch.”

Senate President Don Gaetz said Florida should see what Congress does about federal spending before making any decisions about the state budget surplus.

Virginia Hamrick contributed to this story.

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