FPI and 30 other organizations sent a letter to Florida Department of Education Commissioner Manny Diaz requesting information on voucher scholarships awarded under HB 1.
Providing a quality education to all of Florida’s students is a core constitutional responsibility of our state government and critical to economic growth. Adequate state funding for education provides the foundation for students to compete in an ever-changing economy, and it helps to attract highly qualified teachers and maintain the equity and fairness of Florida’s education system.
In the wake of the Great Recession, many states cut education funding dramatically after state and local revenue plummeted. While many states rebounded in the years that followed, Florida’s investment per-pupil is 13.6 percent lower than pre-recession levels, after adjusting for inflation. State and local combined funds for Florida’s primary and secondary (PreK-12) education dropped $811 per pupil from 2008 to 2023, inflation adjusted. This funding shortage has significantly suppressed teacher salaries — Florida currently ranks 48th in the nation for average teacher pay. Overall, in inflation adjusted dollars, Florida’s teacher pay decreased by 10.3 percent between 2012-2013 and 2021-2022.
Florida now has an additional threat to fully funding public schools: universal vouchers for students in K-12 schools. All students, regardless of income, are eligible for private school vouchers. While $3.3 billion is allocated from the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship funds and the Florida Education Finance Program, Florida’s state and local funding mechanism for education, Florida Policy Institute (FPI) and our partner, the Education Law Center, estimate the likely cost to be $4 billion.
Adequate state funding for education is key to prepare students to compete in an ever-changing economy, provide competitive teacher salaries to attract highly qualified candidates, and maintain the overall equity and fairness of Florida’s education system. FPI promotes funding public schools to at least pre-Great Recession levels.
The chart below was included in FPI’s budget report for 2023-24.