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.
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.