Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday proposed a $2,500 across-the-board pay raise for all full-time Florida teachers next year, a proposal that he says would cost nearly half a billion dollars. That would consume at least part of a tentative projected budget surplus of $437 million.
"I can think of no better investment for our state," Scott said in prepared remarks released by his office.
Scott said his plan, which includes "related benefits," would cost $480 million statewide. He outlined the details for the first time at Ocoee Middle School near Orlando and emphasized that he also will propose an overall increase in education funding when he releases his detailed budget recommendations next week.
"I've traveled the state and I've talked to teachers," Scott told reporters before he flew to Orlando. "They're working tirelessly to make sure our students have achievement. I'm very appreciative of what our teachers do."
Scott said he remains supportive of a merit pay plan tied to student progress on standardized test scores. Merit pay became law two years ago but the state has provided no money for it and teachers are challenging it in court.
The governor's call for an across-the-board pay increase for teachers will be a recommendation to the state Legislature, which writes the annual state budget.
-- Steve Bousquet