Gov. Rick Scott speaks with reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday.
Tallahassee, Florida - Gov. Rick Scott is setting the stage for his third legislative session this spring and promising to focus mainly on jobs and education.
The governor announced Wednesday his budget proposal will seek an extra $1.2 billion for public schools next year. He says that would bring Florida's K-12 education funding to its highest level in history at nearly $11 billion.
Scott wants much of the increase to go toward a pay raise of $2,500 for every full-time teacher. That raise would cost the state an extra $480 million.
Last year Scott convinced state lawmakers to add an extra billion dollars to the education budget.
He calls his latest proposal a "doubling down" on Florida's billion dollar investment in education.
"Investing in our teachers and in our education system is the key to our state's continued economic growth. Of all the things government funds, I am certain of the value our teachers add to our state. Teachers change lives. They shape young minds and cultivate our future workforce."
Gov. Scott says his other main priority this year is to eliminate the sales tax on manufacturing equipment to help boost the state's 17,000 manufacturing companies.
Scott is trying to move beyond the anger he stirred up in his first legislative session when he signed a $1.3 billion cut to education. That decision led to thousands of layoffs of school workers, and angered many parents and teachers.
Now Scott defends the cuts, saying he was forced to make tough choices after federal stimulus spending ended and the state had to figure out how to do more with less.
He argues cutting spending and paying down debt have helped put Florida's economy back on track.
Scott touts unemployment numbers that have dropped more than three points since he took office, as well as less debt. Florida's total debt has dropped $2 billion during his term and now stands at about $26 billion.