Scott proposes teacher pay raises - FOX 13 News

Scott proposes teacher pay raises

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

For years, he took money away from education. But Wednesday, Governor Rick Scott was singing a different tune.

During a press conference, he applauded teachers.

"I can think of no better investment for our state than investing in those teachers who work on the frontline of Florida's future every day by teaching our children," he said.

And with that, he laid out his new education plan.

"Today, I am announcing that I am asking the legislature to join with me in supporting my 2013 budget request to give every Florida full-time public classroom teacher a $2,500 pay raise," he said.

That's a roughly five percent pay raise for teachers making the average salary of $46,000.

Sara Cultra-Cole, a 5th grade teacher at Rampello K-8, was thrilled to hear about it.

"I think it motivates, it makes you feel that you're being rewarded for the work you're putting in. I'm excited and we're very happy about it," she said.

But the teachers union is skeptical.

"We've had promises made that have not been kept. We've had money given to us with one hand and taken away with the other", said Jean Clements, with the Hillsborough Classroom Teacher's Association.

When Governor Scott first took office, he axed $1.3 billion from education. A year later, he restored $1 billion of it.

This past year, Governor Scott made a change requiring teachers to invest three percent of their paychecks into their retirement. Prior to that, the state paid for their retirement.

The governor can't actually give teacher's raises on his own. He has to get legislators to approve the money and earmark it for raises. Then each school district would implement the salaries increases through collective bargaining.

"What he has to do is give enough money that is free and clear above what the legislature requires districts to do, " Clements explained.

The governor said the bad economy in the state, when he first took office, caused him to make some tough decisions.

"We have made the hard choices over the last few years to get our economy growing again. We are back on track. Now, we need to double down on our investment in education," Scott said.

Sara Cultra-Cole is excited and hopeful the money will come.

"I love this job, no matter what the pay, I'll be here every day. I think hopefully this time everything is going to work out. I believe in the system, I believe in education and that's why I'm here every day. So I believe these raises will come," she said.

"I'm not skeptical because I think hopefully this time everything is going to work out."

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