MEDLEY, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott is promising to boost school funding in Florida to its highest levels if he is re-elected.
In an extraordinary move announced Thursday, Scott says he'll recommend a roughly $700 million increase for public schools for 2015. He's making the announcement months before he is required to submit his recommendations to the Florida Legislature.
But Scott's move comes as main Democratic rival Charlie Crist continues to assail him over education budget cuts Scott endorsed during his first year in office. The state cut $1.3 billion from schools in 2011.
Scott is pledging to increase per-student funding to $7,176 -- or a $50 increase over what it was during Crist's first year in office.
When he campaigned for office back in 2010, Scott vowed to cut government spending.
"We ought to be doing this," Scott said during a campaign stop in Medley. "It's the right thing for our kids."
Crist's campaign called Scott's proposal unbelievable and still less than what it was when Crist was governor.
Scott praised during campaign stop in Medley
Scott needs the Hispanic vote to win his bid for re-election in November. If Thursday's turnout in Medley was any indication, he just may get it.
"He deserves four more years," Mayor Roberto Martell said amid a crowd of supporters, adding that he'd just as soon have Scott stay in office four years after that if it weren't for term limits.
South Florida elected officials, most of them Cuban, voiced their support for Scott.
"The governor has done something for us that really keeps us together, which is our jobs," Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz said.
Scott returned the favor.
"You have people from all over the world coming here," Scott said. "This is the best melting pot in the world because people can come here and live their dream."
The real purpose of Scott's stop was to talk about improving transportation.
"Because of our turnaround in the economy, because of that, guess what," Scott said. "We have the highest transportation budget in the history of this state -- $10.1 billion."
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