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Ron DeSantis says teacher pay, e-Verify top priorities to pass in 2020

DeSantis told reporters on Tuesday that 2020 should be the “year of the teacher" in Florida.
Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses reporters at the annual "AP Day" event on Oct. 29, 2019. | Dave Wilson, Miami Herald [Dave Wilson, Miami Herald]
Published Oct. 29
Updated Oct. 29

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that passing his proposal to gives teachers a raise as well as requiring employers to verify their hires’ immigration status are two of his top priorities for the 2020 state legislative session.

It’s a pair of proposals that perhaps accurately symbolizes the governor’s approach to policy, which often includes red meat Republican issues as well as more moderate ideas that have pleasantly surprised some of his Democratic critics.

“This coming legislative session really needs to be the year of the teacher,” he told a roomful of reporters at the annual “AP Day” event, where the state’s top elected officials speak to the media. State lawmakers are scheduled to begin officially meeting on January 14 to discuss and pass bills through March 13.

Earlier this month, DeSantis rolled out a proposal to make $47,500 the minimum base salary for all teachers in Florida, which he said would grant a raise to more than 100,000 educators and cost a total of $603 million annually.

RELATED: Ron DeSantis unveils plan to raise starting pay for Florida teachers

Further backing the idea on Tuesday, DeSantis said the idea is key for teachers to be able to afford the cost of living in the state’s expensive cities and also for districts to be able to recruit teachers to rural areas.

However, the Florida House has already expressed skepticism at the pitch, with Speaker José Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, noting that DeSantis’ agencies have made billions in requests and saying he is committed to suppressing state spending. Oliva was originally scheduled to speak at the event Tuesday, but his office canceled his appearance, citing an unintentional scheduling conflict.

DeSantis lightly pushed back on Tuesday, saying it is important to him that Florida rises in the national rankings for average starting teacher pay. Florida currently ranks around No. 26 for average starting pay, and this proposal would take the state to about No. 2. New Jersey is No. 1.

“I really do i think we need to be much higher than we are,” he said. "Look, José is principled, he does not like spending money on anything and I respect the hell out of him. ... I’m going to work with the speaker."

DeSantis also said that he would like to pass an “e-Verify” bill in 2020, which would require employers to check their hires’ immigration status. It was an issue DeSantis made a pillar of his campaign for governor, but the idea failed to pass the Legislature in 2019 and was traded instead for a bill that banned so-called “sanctuary cities.”

RELATED: E-Verify is failing to pass again this year. Here’s why Florida lawmakers are backing down.

Proposing the topic again could mean the repeat of drawn-out, emotional debate over immigration that seized the Capitol over the “sanctuary cities” bill, which prompted protests during the 2019 session and debates that went into the wee hours of the morning.

He told the media that bill was a “big win” but that e-Verify “is the best way to help deter illegal immigration.”

Sen. Audrey Gibson, the Democratic minority leader from Jacksonville, appeared after DeSantis and said the e-Verify bill “is proposing a solution for something that’s not a problem,” but said it emerged again this year as an attempt to “deliver on a campaign promise to the White House ... while doing detriment to our families.”


  1. Gov. Ron DeSantis greets local officials at Dunedin High School on Oct. 7, 2019, part of a swing around the state to announce his plan to boost starting teacher pay in Florida to $47,500. He revealed a related teacher bonus plan on Nov. 14 in Vero Beach. MEGAN REEVES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The new plan would replace the controversial Best and Brightest model that DeSantis had called confusing.
  2. Florida Senator Darryl Rouson on the floor of the Florida Senate. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
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  3. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., questions FBI Director Christopher Wray during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. Also pictured is Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., left. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    Scott is co-sponsoring a bill to overturn a 1950s Supreme Court ruling.
  4. Tiffany Carr — shown during a 2004 visit to a Hollywood nail salon, where she spoke on domestic violence — was paid $761,560 annual salary as head of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence. MIAMI HERALD  |  [Bob Eighmie Miami Herald file photo]
    Former state Sen. Denise Grimsley, a friend of Carr’s, is stepping in as interim president and CEO of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
  5. In this 2017 photo, then-Gov. Rick Scott, left, speaks with then-Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran in Tampa. The two were instrumental in refusing to expand Medicaid in Florida. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
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  8. Career Foreign Service officer George Kent, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, during the first public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    Kent was one of the most high-ranking career officials who had knowledge about elements of the alleged White House effort.
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