Governor Rick Scott is proposing that each full time teacher in Florida public schools receive a $2,500 raise, beginning next school year. He outlined his proposal at Ocoee Middle School on Wednesday, as the first portion of the rollout of his upcoming budget. He said that after two years of state budget deficits, he expects $480 million to be available this year.
"This funding is enough for a $2,500 pay raise, plus related benefits, for all full time, classroom public teachers."
The governor made it clear he is trying to reward improvements in Florida's education system since he's taken office.
"They deserve it, because of the hard work they've already made, and the success that they've already had."
We asked Gov. Scott a simple question: Is this a re-election ploy and the start of his re-election campaign?
"I talk to Florida families every day. What they care about is they want a job. I put all this time into making sure our economy is back on track. Two, they want their child to get a great education, so they can live the American dream just like we had that opportunity."
We got a slightly different response from Diana Moore, head of Orange County's Classroom Teacher's Association.
"The timing is interesting isn't it? And it comes right after the lawsuit for 3 percent last week. So it is kind of interesting, but it's a conversation starter."
In 2011, lawmakers passed and Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill that requires government employees to contribute 3 percent of their salaries to offset the state's investment into the Florida Retirement System. The legislation has been challenged in a lawsuit filed by the Florida Education Association.
The union did want to speak out in opposition to their front line employees getting raises. They believe $2,500 a year is a good starting point to evaluate how much teachers are worth in the state of Florida.
The $2,500 raises will first have to pass the Florida Legislature, then be collectively bargained in each of the 67 school districts. Both of those tasks should be able to be accomplished, observers say.