Rick Scott’s Charter School Slush Fund(s)

Florida TaxWatch is a reliable tool of the state republican establishment and all things charter school, but they don’t falsify numbers. So let’s take a look at FTW’s review of Rick Scott’s proposal for education facility projects:

Fixed Capital Outlay The Governor recommends $1.8 billion for education facility projects, most of  which ($1.3 billion) goes to pay debt service on outstanding bonds. The remainder includes $153 for maintenance, repair and renovation of public schools ($60.0 million), universities ($50.0 million), and colleges ($40.0 million). Ten small school districts would receive $96.7 million for construction projects. Another $90 million is provided for new college and university building projects, for which the Governor would require a 1 to 1 private match. The Board of Governors and the State College System requested $211.5 million (no match requirement) for these projects. In addition to all this Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) Trust Fund spending, $100 million in general revenue is provided for charter schools.

Of the $1.8 billion, it appears Scott is applying all but $500 million to paying off debt. If this is for public school facility projects, bless his heart. So of the $500 million intended for spending, $100 million – 20 percent – is for charter schools.

Which charter schools? Is it for new construction or “maintenance, repair and renovation?” Who gets to decide? How are those funds accessed by charter schools?

It sure would be nice if there were a little transparency for taxpayers. Perhaps FTW might want to let Floridians in on that. No?

Without transparency from Scott’s administration such a set aside appears to be a slush fund. And it’s not the only one.

Late last month Charter Schools USA “qualified for public incentives to expand its Fort Lauderdale headquarters.” From South Florida Business Journal:

The company could earn $365,000 from the state and the city through the Qualified Target Industry (QTI) program should it create 73 jobs at an average salary of $60,000 as well as retain its existing 188 Florida jobs. The company pledged to invest $1.3 million in capital as it relocates its office to 43,000 square feet at 800 Corporate Drive.

The QTI Program from which Charter Schools USA is receiving comes from Enterprise Florida, a taxpayer funded program which “offers bottom-line advantages for long term profitability for all types of businesses, from corporate headquarters to manufacturing plants to service firms.” QTI “is available for companies that create high wage jobs in targeted high value-added industries. This incentive includes refunds on corporate income, sales, ad valorem, intangible personal property, insurance premium, and certain other taxes. Pre-approved applicants who create jobs in Florida receive tax refunds of $3,000 per net new Florida full-time equivalent job created; $6,000 in an Enterprise Zone or Rural Community.”

According to Florida Tax Watch, Scott wants $24.9 million for Enterprise Florida this year. Along with the vague guidelines capital outlay funds which come from utility taxes, it marks the second way which Scott can get the taxpayers money to the for-profit charter school industry. Are there more?

Charter Schools USA CEO Jonathan Hage donated $50,000 to Scott’s PAC, Let’s Get to Work.  Marlene Sokol reported in the Tampa Bay Times a year ago that Hage had donated $100,000 to Scott and Florida republicans.

Its called crony capitalism.


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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2 Responses to Rick Scott’s Charter School Slush Fund(s)

  1. Dianemarie says:

    It’s called lying, cheating, good ole boy cronyism. Charter schools USA and all the rst of these PPP Charter School Management companies – anyone ever look at how much they are charging their charter schools in management fees? The people of Florida should. Why is Scott giving these companies any of our tax base? I’m not sure who is buying who.

    Citizens of Florida should demand a full audit of Enterprise Florida to see if they are living up to their commitment to the Florida Statutes covering the financial part of these PPP scam. Scott has been called on the carpet more than one by ethics groups on their lavish spending. Why are the taxpayers of Florida paying for corporate monkeys and Florida government staff to travel all over the world and attend sports events when he is giving them tax incentives galore.

    Scott is running this state like he was the CEO of a corporation rather than a governor of a state and is continually stepping out of his authority into other branches of the government. He needs to be held accountable for Baileygate and Trusselgate. He is showing his true colors and they are very black> Playing games with our judges and state’s attorney’s is not only unethical but I believe against the law.

    Time to clean out the trash from Tally and since most of them are Republican’s I guess that is what the trash is. Still cannot understand why Fresen is allowed to be in Tally – he has more tacky financial goings on’s than the average bear.

    And don’t forget – they just passed an ethics bill last year and it was as worthless as they are.

  2. B. Knight says:

    Who writes this crap? Sounds like a blip from the “Union News”. All they need to do is look at the statute and it tells the qualification criteria.

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