Scott Approves Pay Raises For State Employees, Law Enforcement

State employees will get a pay raise this October under a bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott.

He will do so at an Orlando Catholic school that serves children with special needs, highlighting the bill's $30 million expansion of private school scholarships for students with disabilities while downplaying the criticisms.

Scott vetoed a sweeping higher education reform bill that was one of Senate President Joe Negron's top priorities of the 2017 session, saying that the measure "impedes" the ability of state colleges to provide access to low-priced, quality education.

Scott said in a statement he will sign the bill because it increases school choice options for Florida parents.

The Legislature's passage of the bill was greeted by a firestorm of protest from school boards, superintendents, the state's main teachers and other education advocates.

The bill also requires school districts share capital project tax revenue with charter schools, which Corcoran argued is one of the reasons why some school district officials have come out in opposition to the bill.

"This legislation impedes the state college system's mission by capping the enrollment level of baccalaureate degrees and unnecessarily increasing red tape", Scott said in his veto message, noting he is a product of a community college that helped him eventually gain a law degree after he left the U.S. Navy.

In a ceremony for veterans at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in Tallahassee, Scott signed the compensation legislation (SB 7022), a key priority of Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater. The juxtaposition of the two decisions sparked political intrigue as chatter emerged whether Scott was positioning himself behind Speaker Corcoran, with whom he had feuded throughout session over economic development, education funding and other high profile issues.

But Negron said the veto of the bill, known as the "Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2017", will cast uncertainty on expansion of the Bright Futures program for the future.

"While there are small pockets of good policy hidden within this bill, it is a monstrosity when coupled with the multitude of bad policies that have been included", Farmer wrote. The bill includes more than $200 million for teacher and principal bonuses. There will also be a daily recess mandate for all public school students, except for charter schools which already have a numerical requirement for recess time.

But in the end, Scott got to keep the programs.

  • Larry Hoffman