Call it an about-face, a revolution of thought or just a shift in priorities, but however you explain why Governor Rick Scott is now proposing a pay raise for teachers’ one thing’s clear; it’s what educators have been dying to hear.
“Right now the right thing to do is across the board pay raises for all of our full time teachers,” said Governor Scott. “I’ve traveled the state. I’ve talked to teachers. They’re working tirelessly to make sure our students have achievements. So I’m appreciative of what our school teachers do.
The raise proposal seems out of line for Scott, especially if you consider his first budget. Scott cut 1.3 billion dollars from education. In his defense, the cut was federal stimulus dollars that had run dry but Scott also forced teachers to contribute three percent to the state pension a move many saw as a pay cut.
If Scott’s latest proposal is an about-face, it’s a welcomed one. Florida’s new Commissioner of Education says teachers support the move.
“I think the governor recognizes the heavy lift Florida teachers have made, since he came to office, and I think he is appreciative of their efforts,” said Tony Bennett.
And of course lawmakers have the final say on all budget items, but at least for now, they’re doesn’t seem to be many legislative opponents of the plan.
“Teachers have really paid a heavy price over the last several years and hopefully we can find a way to give them some bonuses where they can feel more appreciated,” said Rep. Broxson.
If the plan makes it through the budget process, then all of Florida’s 168,000 teachers will get an estimated 2,500 dollars more next year, costing the state 480 million dollars.
The proposal comes as state economists predict a 437 million dollar budget surplus, making it a lot easier for Scott to find cash for the increases.