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Sen. Soto pitches his own plan for teacher debit cards

Calling Gov. Rick Scott's teacher debit card program "broken," Sen. Darren Soto on Wednesday unveiled his own plan for helping educators purchase classroom supplies.

Under Soto's proposal, teachers statewide would receive school supply debit cards two weeks before the start of the school year. Elementary school teachers would receive $250. Middle and high school teachers would receive $500 and $750, respectively.

“With revenues up, it is critical that we use this opportunity to strengthen our education system, without bankrupting our teachers,” Soto wrote in a statement.

Soto's news release came after a Herald/Times report that only seven of the state's 67 school districts had signed up for Scott's new teacher debit card program. Many districts declined because the $250 cards won't be available until September, well after kids have returned to the classroom.

The participating districts: Hamilton, Hendry, Jefferson, Layfayette, Levy, Miami-Dade and Orange.

Broward has agreed to participate next year, according to the governor's office.

Scott's debit card proposal, which was included SB 1664, won widespread support in the House and Senate earlier this year. Soto was among the seven Democrats who approved the bill when it reached the Senate floor.