9 Investigates Crist, Scott education attack ads



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Two new ads target the two top contenders for governor with each taking a shot at the other on education.

Over the weekend, the state Democratic Party released an ad criticizing Gov. Rick Scott for cuts to public education and the Bright Futures scholarship program.  In the ad, a child sits at a desk while a captions run across the bottom of the screen depicting a $1.3 billion cut to K-12 education, less money spent per student, and the loss of Bright Futures scholarships for half of Florida students.

“This is obviously an attempt to put Rick Scott on the defensive,” said WFTV Political Analyst Dr. Rick Foglesong.

While not false, on its three points, the ad leaves out context and overstates the cuts.


  • $1.3 Billion Cut to K-12 Education: While education funding fell in 2009 during Scott’s first year in office, a portion of the decrease was due to the expiration of federal stimulus dollars.  In addition, the Legislature has, in the following years, restored almost all of the $1.3 billion in cuts.


  • $189 Less Per Student: This number is off by $12 per student. The budget signed Monday by Scott actually puts per student funding at $177 per student less than 2007-2008 when Crist was governor, not $189.  The number cited in the ad also fails to mention the growth of Florida’s student population since 2007.


  • Took Away Bright Futures Scholarships for Half of Florida Students: From 2011 to 2012, the number of students served by Bright Futures fell from 179,076 to 127,573, a reduction of about 30 percent.  But under both Crist and Scott, the Florida Legislature increased the requirements for the scholarships, a factor in the decline of participation.

Less than 24 hours after the release of the Democratic ad, Rick Scott’s PAC “Let’s Get to Work” released an education ad of its own targeting Charlie Crist on the cost of college.

The ad from the Scott PAC says that Crist claims “college tuition costs too much” and goes on to imply that Crist increased the cost of college tuition by 15% while he was governo.  Again the ad is mostly correct, but leaves out important details.
“I think that it is factually correct, except that it omits that the state Legislature had a hand, too, in these kinds of increases,” said Foglesong.


  • Charlie Crist Allowed College Tuition to Increase Up to 15%: This is the main statement in the ad from the PAC.  In 2009 a Republican-sponsored bill was passed allowing universities in the state to request up to a 15% increase in tuition. The move came amid complaints by universities that the Legislature was not funding higher education adequately. The increases were capped at 15% and were not automatic.  While Crist did sign the legislation and publicly supported it, it was the Republican-controlled Legislature that passed the bill and the Board of Governors that had to approve the increases. 


  •  Scott Repealed Crist’s Tuition Increase: HB 581, passed by the Legislature this year and signed by  Scott, repeals the optional 15% increase for all schools except the University of Florida and Florida State; UF and FSU will be allowed to increase tuition by up to 6%.  All other tuition increases must now be approved by the Florida Legislature.