Gov. Rick Scott delivered his State of the State speech this morning before the Florida Legislature.
After thanking lawmakers and family members, education was first on Scott’s agenda.
He said he has two priorities for growing the economy: remove the sales tax on manufacturing equipment, and invest in teachers by providing them “a well-deserved pay raise.”
“The single most important factor in student learning is the quality of teaching,” Scott said, repeating a line he used during his speech in 2011.
Scott mentioned some of his administration’s accomplishments, including the elimination of teacher tenure and the addition of performance pay that will take effect in 2014.
“We don’t want a war on teachers; we want a war on failure,” Scott said.
In the Democratic response, Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale,said Scott started the war on teachers by proposing $1.3 billion in budget cuts after taking office.
Smith challenged Scott to “provide leadership to make sure the Legislature follows through” on the raises. Smith also urged Scott support raises for other state workers, such as prison guards.
Scott recognized a middle school teacher from Tampa, Elizabeth Heli, who worked as an engineer before deciding to become a science teacher. He held her up as example of an educator who will “help make dreams come true for the next generation of Floridians.”
Here are more remarks from Gov. Scott on education:
“Our students and teachers were recently ranked sixth for educational quality. Our fourth-graders scored among the highest in the world on a recent reading evaluation.
Accountability is working.
The best way we can build on this progress is to reward our hard-working teachers with a $2,500 pay raise.
Some say they are afraid raises to all teachers may mean that a teacher doing a bad job gets rewarded. But, thanks to our work, we are now in a better position than ever before to reward good teachers and move bad teachers out of the classroom.
We don’t want a war on teachers; we want a war on failure.
In total, our budget increases K-12 education funding by more than $1.2 billion.
This billion dollar commitment builds on our billion dollar investment in K-12 education last year.
Our total education investment of $10.7 billion in state funding for K-12 this year is the highest state funding level in Florida history.
This represents an increase of more than $400 in per student funding over the current fiscal year.
I am asking for your help to make this historic commitment to education funding a reality for Florida families.”