Gov. Rick Scott will push for pay raise for teachers
With Florida anticipating its first budget surplus in five years, Gov. Rick Scott will seek an across-the-board pay raise for public school teachers in the budget he will send to the Legislature next week.
A source close to the governor says Scott will unveil the proposal on Wednesday when he visits a middle school in suburban Orlando, in the crux of the state's politically vital I-4 corridor. The amount of the pay hike has not been disclosed.
According to a state-by-state survey by the National Education Association, average teacher salaries in Florida are among the lowest in the country. A survey for the 2010-2011 year showed the average salary in Florida was $45,732, which ranked 45th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Average salaries were highest in New York, at $72,708 a year.
Scott began his term as governor two years ago on the outs with many teachers and their union, the Florida Education Association (FEA), which strongly backed Scott's Democratic opponent, Alex Sink. But Scott -- who's seeking re-election in 2014 -- has held highly-publicized meetings with teachers around the state, invited FEA President Andy Ford to the Governor's Mansion, and called for $250 debit cards for all teachers to help cover the costs of out-of-pocket classroom expenses.
Scott will formally release his 2013-2014 budget recommendations next week in Tallahassee. The teacher pay raise is expected to be in addition to whatever Scott will seek in funding for the state's K-12 public schools.
Teachers and their parent union represent one of the most potent political constituencies in the state, and the union is a reliable supporter of Democrats most -- but not all -- of the time.