Sunday, May 20, 2018
Politics

At odds with Gov. Scott, lawmakers align on teacher merit raises

TALLAHASSEE — The House and the Senate aligned their position on teacher pay raises Sunday, putting the Florida Legislature on a collision course with Gov. Rick Scott.

The chambers agreed to spend $480 million on salary increases for educators — the same figure Scott has in his budget.

The key difference: the Senate and the House are insisting on performance-based raises, while Scott is championing $2,500 across-the-board increases for every classroom teacher.

The governor is holding firm on his proposal, one of his top priorities for this year's legislative session, which ends in early May. House and Senate leaders said they didn't see Scott's plan becoming reality.

"The governor has priorities. The Legislature has priorities," said Scott spokeswoman Melissa Sellers late Sunday. "There's still enough time left to determine how successful this session will be for all of us."

Said House Education Appropriations Chairman Erik Fresen, R-Miami, earlier in the day: "Regardless of how you look at it, (teacher raises) will have a methodology that ties the increases to merit."

Reaching consensus didn't come easily.

Initially, the House had wanted to spend $676 million and then adjusted the number to $628 million late last week. On Sunday, the lower chamber decided that $480 million would be okay.

There had also been some discrepancies over how much flexibility the districts ought to have with the cash. The House wanted to give school systems more freedom than the Senate. But Fresen said the House and Senate were close to reaching consensus on that front, too.

The two chambers also agreed Sunday to a new way of calculating per-student spending, which would result in an $8 million cut to virtual education programs, according to documents from the House. The change was necessary, lawmakers have said, because students enrolled in virtual programs were receiving a larger share of money than students in brick-and-mortar schools.

Senate Education Appropriations Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, insisted the change would "not harm Florida Virtual School."

"It's not hurting the program if there is some inequity in a program and that inequity is corrected," he said.

Despite the consensus, a handful of education issues remain unresolved, including the 6 percent tuition hike House Speaker Will Weatherford has been pushing for the state's universities.

On Sunday, the House said it was willing to come down to a 4 percent increase.

Galvano said he would have to evaluate the new offer. On Saturday, however, he said the Senate would hold its position that tuition not be increased.

Times/Herald staff writers Tia Mitchell and Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report.

Comments
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18
Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

WASHINGTON - The Senate Intelligence Committee moved Wednesday to recommend Gina Haspel for CIA director, setting up a floor vote that her opponents say will signal to the world whether the United States condemns or condones torture.The committee vot...
Published: 05/16/18
Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

In Hillsborough County — where one of the world’s largest Confederate flags still flies near a busy interstate — you may not be surprised to learn there’s an Uncle Tom Road.The name is a flash point and a slur, shorthand for a black person who will d...
Published: 05/16/18
Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell drops out of Pinellas Commission race

Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell drops out of Pinellas Commission race

With six months to go before the Nov. 6 election, Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell on Monday dropped her bid against Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard for the at-large District 2 seat.Caudell said she decided she’d better be better suited f...
Published: 05/14/18
Romano: Hey Gov. Scott, could you hire me, too?

Romano: Hey Gov. Scott, could you hire me, too?

To: The Honorable Gov. Rick ScottDear Governor,It has come to my attention that your administration has recently made some, dare I say, innovative hires for important government positions in the months before you leave office.At the risk of sounding ...
Published: 05/14/18
‘Not a racially motivated issue’: N.C. mayor defends violent arrest of black man at Waffle House

‘Not a racially motivated issue’: N.C. mayor defends violent arrest of black man at Waffle House

The mayor of the North Carolina town where a 22-year-old black man’s violent arrest in a Waffle House has drawn wide scrutiny and prompted an internal investigation defended the police in a video he posted Friday."This is not a racially motivated iss...
Published: 05/12/18