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Save Your Boxes Scott

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In 2014 career politician Scott Plakon may be running in a new district, but he'll be bringing plenty of baggage from his 2012 campaign and his years in Florida's dysfunctional legislature with him. He certainly won't be able to hide from his ties to "America's Most Disgusting Political Ad" -- where Plakon backers falsely linked mother and elementary school teacher Karen Castor Dentel to child predator Jerry Sandusky in a disgusting new low for Florida politics. Plakon also won't be able to outrun his record of slashing education funding — causing teacher layoffs, exploding class sizes and cuts to programs like arts and athletics — while still managing to find tax dollars for a budget the Tampa Bay Times called “a study in pork-barrel spending, reckless policy and a shortchanged future.”

Our advice to Scott Plakon: save your boxes after your move, because Floridians already sent you packing once.  

THE PLAKON BAGGAGE

Republicans cut funding for public education for five consecutive years, including cutting $1.3 billion in 2011 alone. “The budget does not make up for five consecutive years of cuts to K-12 spending,  including $1.3 billion in cuts Scott approved last year.” [Times Herald, 4/18/12; SB 2000, Vote [Seq# 628], 5/7/2011] 

In 2012, Plakon failed to restore education funding to the same level following the GOP's historic cuts. “The boost from last year does not overcome past budget cuts — $1.3 billion statewide last year alone;” "Scott also brags in the ad that the state put $1 billion more into school funding this year, wholly ignoring the $1.3 billion in cuts to K-12 funding Scott approved the previous year." [Florida Times Union, 2/28/12; Tampa Bay Times,9/12/12; HB 5001, Vote [Seq #1206], 3/9/2012]  

Plakon included 0 dollars for public school construction or repair. "Florida's schools, community colleges and state universities, which anticipate zero construction dollars, will be forced to stop  or put off for years many dozens of new projects, including repairs to roofs and air-conditioners” [Sunshine State News, 3/3/2012]

Republican budget cuts are forcing schools to layoff teachers and cut programs like arts and athletics. "Critics said it doesn't cover the $1.3 billion cut they got last year…That has school officials contemplating layoffs and the elimination of such programs as arts and athletics" [AP, 4/17/12. See also: WSVN, 4/27/10; The Ledger, 2/20/11; Ocala Star Banner, 9/19/11; Orlando Sentinel, 5/17/11

Plakon supported giving $55 million to for-profit Charter schools, while public schools got zero dollars. "School district officials across Florida are bemoaning the Legislature's decision to cut traditional public schools out of PECO — the Public Education Capital Outlay program. The state's 350 charter schools will share $55 million, while the approximately 3,000 traditional schools will go without." [Orlando Sentinel, 7/25/11

Unlike public schools which are focused on teaching, out of state corporations are focused on profiting off our children's education.  "K12 is an $864 million publicly traded company whose stock price has more than doubled in the last year. In recent years, K12 has increased profits while student performance has suffered, raising questions about whether the for-profit virtual schools provider is making money at the expense of academics. A July 2012 study by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado found that students at K12 schools fell further behind in reading and math scores than pupils in traditional schools. [FCIR, 9/11/12]  

In 2012, Plakon cut $300 million for higher education and universities. “The House and Senate have agreed to cut universities by $300 million” [Palm Beach Post ,3/1/2012

Plakon forced students to face tuition increases. “Students still could face double-digit tuition increases while schools will spend less to educate them” [Tampa Bay Times, 3/7/2012]; “’We are being put in a position of having no choice but to raise tuition,’ Ramil said” [WUSF, 3/1/2012

UCF Trustees made clear that state budget cuts to higher education were prompting tuition increases.  “UCF trustees reluctantly approved tuition increases in May while making it clear that they are concerned about repeated state budget cuts to higher education” [UCF Board of Governors,6/21/12]

In 2012, Plakon's budget raised tuition on college students by 5-percent. “It includes a 5 percent tuition increase for Florida college students” [Gainesville Sun, 3/5/12]

Plakon cut the “Bright Futures” Scholarship program. “Another measure would cut thousands of students from the Bright Futures scholarships;” "Starting this year, recipients will only receive a certain amount of money per credit hour, and most of their fees won’t be covered. It’s a much smaller award than students received during the first decade of the program." [Miami Herald, 2/29/12; NPR's StateImpact, 8/20/12]

Plakon's funding cuts to the Bright Futures program are raising the cost of higher education for students. "The Florida Lottery's contribution to Bright Futures has declined by $41 million in transferred funds to the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program, according to Florida Department of Education officials. Deborah Higgins, Bright Futures information specialist with the Florida Department of Education, said funds have decreased because the Florida Legislature appropriated less funding for the program this year…'The award per credit hour to be funded was reduced, therefore eligible students will receive a lesser award per their enrollment,' said Higgins about the effects of funding cuts on the Florida Bright Futures program and on Florida students. [The FAMUAN, 10/16/12]]

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