Gov. Rick Scott is seeking a pay raise for Florida's teachers after spearheading a successful effort to cut their wages by 3 percent through a retirement contribution.
Scott announced his proposal Wednesday in Ocoee, saying he wants to give $2,500 more to every full-time teacher in the state of Florida.
"They deserve it because of the hard work they've already made and all the success they've already had," Scott said on Wednesday.
The money will come from Florida's first budget surplus in six years.
"Now that our economy is back on track and we can afford to make major investments again, we are responsible for investing in areas that will help Florida families the most," Scott said.
The Florida Supreme Court last week upheld a Scott-proposed law requiring the pension contribution from teachers, state and county employees and some municipal workers.
The Legislature last year approved Scott's request to increase public school funding by $1 billion, but left it to local school boards to determine how much, if any, would go to pay raises. The pay raise would cost $480 million.
"I think any investment in our teachers has to be applauded, because the dollars could go elsewhere," Scott said.
That was a turn-around for the Republican governor, who in the previous year persuaded lawmakers to cut school spending.
The state has about 168,000 teachers, who make an average of $46,000 per year, about $10,000 less than the national average for teachers.
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