OCOEE, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott was in central Florida on Wednesday, where he asked state lawmakers to put aside money in the coming year to give pay raises to the state's full-time teachers.
The announcement was made shortly before 3 p.m. at Ocoee Middle School.
"I am excited to be here to announce that as we continue to move forward and create more jobs, we are doubling down on our investment in education," Scott said. "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."
Scott is putting the finishing touches on the 2013 budget he will likely submit next week to legislators.
"The full budget, which we will announce in the next few weeks, will include a total of $480 million for teacher salaries. This funding is enough for a $2,500 pay raise -- plus related benefits --
for all full-time, classroom public teachers," said Scott.
Scott said now that the economy is back on track, the state can afford to make major investments again.
"This $2,500 teacher pay raise will be in my recommended budget, but it still needs to pass the legislature before we can sign it into law," said Scott. "It will also need to be collectively bargained at the district level to be implemented."
According to the Florida Department of Education, the average teacher salary has increased by less than $500 since 2006, leaving the state almost $10,000 behind the national average.
With more than 185,000 teachers across the state, it would cost almost $2 billion to bring every teacher up to the national average, even with a surplus.
Last week, the governor's decision to mandate a 3 percent mandatory pension contribution by teachers was upheld by the state supreme court.
"This is a great day for education in Florida. 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.
"For those teachers that have stayed and worked even when the dollars weren't there, I'm very pleased for this announcement,” said Dr. Barbara Jenkins of Orange County Public Schools.