Reaction to teacher tenure bill veto quick, harsh; lawmaker pulls endorsement
UPDATED: It didn't take long to gauge reaction to Gov. Charlie Crist's veto of Senate Bill 6. House Speaker Larry Cretul told Buzz that portions of Crist's remarks were "rather harsh."
And at least one lawmaker - maybe in what is a sign of more to come - pulled his support of Crist in the U.S. Senate race. "Governor Crist is playing political games with our children's education," said Rep. John Tobia, a freshman Republican from Satellite Beach.
The bulk of GOP lawmakers who pushed the merit pay for teachers legislation dodged comment or gave mild retorts, preferring to issue prepared statements. The reaction came quickly with the Florida Education Association issuing one of the quickest releases (at 12:11 p.m.) mere moments after Crist opened his remarks.
The press conference attracted broad attention, including a number of lobbyists and lawmakers opposed to the legislation who stood in the back. One of the few supporters of the bill who attended was Rep. Tom Grady, a Naples Republican. Asked why he attended, "I wanted to look my governor in the eye," he said.
Here is some reaction, in order received:
FEA president Andy Ford: "We're thankful that the governor realized what some lawmakers wouldn't."
Democrat Alex Sink, gubernatorial candidate: "Gov. Crist stood up for parents and children by vetoing the radical bill ..."
Democrat U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, U.S. Senate candidate: "Nothing is more powerful than teachers, parents and students standing together and speaking out against policies that degrade our teachers ..."
Republican state Rep. Adam Hasner, House GOP leader: "I'm disappointed ... Crist would change his mind and now veto this bill."
Republican state Sen. John Thrasher, in a statement: "It goes without saying that I am disappointed ... and I continue to think that one day it will be fully implemented in our state."
Democrat state Rep. Franklin Sands, House minority leader: "It is refreshing that our governor listened and responded to the voices of the majority of Floridians who opposed this radical bill."
Democrat state Rep. Al Lawson, Senate minority leader: "The decision to buck some of his fellow Republicans was not only courageous, but the right thing to do."
Republican state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, Senate GOP leader: "Governor Crist said the bill was contrary to his principles. It is becoming difficult to determine what those principles are when he will say one thing and then do another. ... Today's veto is a political stunt."
Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Thurman: I would also like to congratulate ... all Floridians who fought so hard for our state's children and against this bill."