JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Surrounded by Florida teachers, Governor Rick Scott said he’s “doubling down” on our state’s education investment.
"This is a great day for students. It's a great day for education in Florida,” Scott said at a news conference at Ocoee Middle School.
Wednesday afternoon Scott announced a proposal to give a $2,500 across-the-board pay raise, plus related benefits, to every full-time public school teacher.
“Florida teachers are the heart and success of Florida students,” said Scott.
The governor will include the pay raise as part of the 2013 budget recommendations he will give to state legislators. The pay raise is expected to cost $480 million.
While it was a welcome announcement, the news seemed to fall on many skeptic ears.
"This Governor has given us reason to be skeptical. There has been a lot of talk about supporting public education that hasn't come through,” said Colleen Wood.
Wood is the founder of 50th No More, a grassroots advocacy group dedicated to supporting public education. While Wood says she agrees Florida teachers are deserving of a pay raise, she says the issue is more complicated than the governor is portraying.
"That's just part of the PR misnomer. The governor can't give teachers a raise,” said Wood.
A potential pay raise must be approved by the Legislature and then ultimately by local school districts, who set the salaries.
Wood says, after the last couple of years, she’s not going to count her chickens before they hatch.
"We’ll wait and see. The parents of this state will do whatever they need to for our children. We'll work with this governor, but we need to see the follow through from him,” said Wood.
Scott also said he’ll be proposing an overall increase in education funding, but the full details will not be revealed until his budget is announced. That’s expected to happen in the next few weeks.