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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Scott chides Weatherford for not backing teacher pay hike



Gov. Rick Scott's top priority in the current legislative session is a $2,500 across the board pay raise for teachers, and on Tuesday he took the gloves off and pointedly called out a fellow Republican, House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, for not embracing the idea.

"In the House, here's what I find interesting. My understanding is the speaker's against the pay raise for classroom teachers," Scott told reporters in a news conference in his office. "But in contrast, he does across the board pay raises for state workers. Now, look, state workers deserve to be paid fairly. That's why, in my budget, I said they should get a bonus because of unemployment coming down."

Aides said Scott appreciated Weatherford's willingness to boost public school spending by more than $1 billion, and that he was contrasting his own emphasis on teachers in his $74 billion budget proposal.

Just in case anybody missed the point that he was putting heat on Weatherford, Scott repeated the point. "I find it interesting that the speaker's against the pay raise for classroom teachers, but he's okay with an across the board pay raise for state workers and no performance funding for universities," he said.

Weatherford took to Twitter to respond, saying of Scott: "(Tell) his staff to reread our budget!"

That prompted this tweet from the governor: "Looking forward to working with @willweatherford and Senate President Gaetz on K-12 investment for Florida students, teachers and families."

Scott and Weatherford also are at odds over Medicaid expansion, which the governor supports and the speaker opposes. Weatherford was a featured speaker Tuesday at a Capitol rally by Americans for Prosperity, which has criticized Scott for supporting Medicaid expansion.

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 2:52pm]


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