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Transparency 101: Rick Scott’s Pay Raise Ploy

| January 26, 2013

Governor Wiles. (Rob Bixby)

Governor Wiles. (Rob Bixby)

By Rhonda Swan

On Wednesday, Florida’s “education” governor announced that he’ll be asking the Legislature to allocate $480 million to fund $2,500 pay raises for every full-time public classroom teacher.

“I can think of no better investment for our state,” he said at a press conference, “than investing in those teachers who work on the frontline of Florida’s future every day by teaching our children.”

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The governor was singing a very different tune two years ago when he signed a law forcing teachers and other government employees to contribute 3 percent of their salaries to the state’s pension plan. That measure amounted to a pay cut for Florida teachers who earn $10,000 a year less than the national average.

Scott told reporters that back then the state was broke and he did what he had to do.

Today, it’s on the upswing so “we need to double down on our investment in education.”

Translation: He wants to get re-elected in 2014. He’s not popular. So he’s trying to win votes by any means necessary.

Asked by a reporter if this was an election ploy, Scott returned immediately to his talking points about Florida’s improving economy and the impact of education.

No one disputes that an excellent education system is important for the state’s economy. Why does Scott seem to recognize that only when his political future is on the line?

Public Policy Polling released a poll last week that shows Scott’s approval rating is just 33 percent, worse than the 37 percent who approved of him in November. Even Republicans aren’t feeling good about the governor with less than half – 49 percent – approving of him.

As Scott’s approval numbers drop, former Gov. Charlie Crist’s go up.

The Republican turned Independent turned Democrat is all but certain to challenge Scott for the governor’s mansion next year.

And the PPP poll shows that he’d whip Scott like he owes him money.

Democrats approve of Crist 70 percent to 16 percent. More than half of Democratic primary voters – 52 percent – say want the silver haired party switcher to be their candidate for governor next year.

Crist, who ticked off the GOP when he hugged President Barack Obama for having the audacity to approve a stimulus that helped keep Florida from falling off its own fiscal cliff – and kept thousands of teachers, firefighters and cops employed – would even get 29 percent of Republican votes.

No wonder Scott is running scared.

He hasn’t exactly been the poster governor for working-class Floridians, 168,000 of whom are public classroom teachers.

The first piece of legislation that he signed into law – enthusiastically – was the merit pay bill that ties teacher salaries to student test scores and eliminates tenure for new hires.

“Teachers across the state are supportive,” he told Fox News, “and it’s going to change education.”

Actually, teachers across the state were up in arms. And they remember all too well that Crist vetoed the same bill the year before.

Add to Scott’s list of sins the fact that he slashed education by $1.3 billion his first year in office.

His approval ratings tanked, so he went on a so-called listening tour. That prompted him to restore $1 billion of what he cut. He called it an increase in funding, despite the $300 million net loss.

At least this year’s bribery attempt would result in a net gain. Average teacher salary in Florida is $45,723. That means they lost, on average, about $1,372 in pay with Scott’s pension-reform law. So his proposed $2,500 raise would amount to an actual pay hike of about $1,148.

It’s better than nothing. But is it enough to make teachers forget that Scott was their enemy before he suddenly was their new best friend?

Doubt it.

Scott’s policies since he took office have favored private and charter schools over traditional public schools, and he’s treated teachers like stepchildren.

He has shown teachers and all Floridians who he really is. Believe the man who’s governed the past two years, not the man who will be campaigning for the next two.

Rhonda Swan is an editorial writer for The Palm Beach Post and author of “Dancing to the Rhythm of My Soul: A Sister’s Guide for Transforming Madness into Gladness” (Conscious Mind Press). She can be reached by email here.

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18 Responses for “Transparency 101: Rick Scott’s Pay Raise Ploy”

  1. If Mr. Scott’s lips are moving, you can be sure he is telling a little white one. Have a nice life Rick, where will you be working next year?

  2. Riley says:

    Rick Scott……………….slippery and slimy.

  3. Nancy N. says:

    When your usually less-than-attentive man suddenly shows up bearing flowers…be suspicious. Very suspicious.

    Sorry Rick, every woman who’s not brain dead learned that one before age 18…

  4. "My Daily Rant" says:

    Biggest liar ever voted into office.Remember Scott the people that put you where you are wont be doing the same next election.

  5. IMO says:

    Florida elects Crist as Governor I move out of Florida.

    I didn’t flee Cuomo and Bloomberg to end up living under Crist.

  6. Edman says:

    As was said in the Wizard of Oz, pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Rick Scott needs to get in a hot balloon and get out of Florida. We Munchkins deserve much better.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Your mixing apples and oranges….That was then and now is now…..what don’t you get about the state not having the dollars to fund pensions !00 % Whats wrong with asking state employees to put a little skin in the game…everyone in the private sector contributes at least if not a lot more to their retirement plans….and now two years later after he has balanced the budget and there is a surplus he has decided to put it to a very good use by giving teachers a pay raise?
    and yes of course he is also thiinking about the next election…what politician doesn’t ?

  8. there are three sides to every story says:

    Two years ago the state could not afford to continue to fund pension plans 100% Someone had to end that luxury…whats wrong with asking state employees to put some skin in the game…people in the private sector plan a lot more then 3% if they are lucky enough to even have a plan….And after finally balancing the budget there is a surplus thank you Mr. Scott..and it seems that giving teachers a pay raise is putting that surpluc to a very good use!
    also….what politican doesn’t start running for re-election the day after the election?
    I’m not a Scott supporter but you sure have a real axe to grind…give some credit when its due.

    • See ya says:

      State, county and municipal workers make less in government positions compared to those same jobs in the private sector. I know, I took a massive pay cut to become a civil servant based on the promise that I would have a pension. Folks in the private sector fund their retirement because they make more, and often the company will match a percentage – not so in government, I am twenty three years invested in this system and the Govenor changes the game – I could have made a lot more money in the private sector. All of you who are suggesting that it’s o.k. to force employees to take a 3% pay cut are not comparing apples to apples with private sector salaries. And since there is this miraclulous surplus why not restore the 3% that was taken away instead of this meager $2500 ploy for votes?

  9. confidential says:

    No matter what he does now won’t matter anymore. He will be booted and Cris a Democrat now, will win. Then in 2016 Cris will beat Rubio and hopefully Alex Sink runs again and will be our Governor then.

  10. confidential says:

    We need to change the House and Senate members in 2014 and 2016…lets keep focused.

  11. bq says:

    Take the money and then vote him out of office!

  12. John Boy says:

    Yet to meet anyone who says they will vote for him if he decides to run for re-election. The smart move on his part would be not to run. If he runs he will probably loose by the largest majority of any race in Florida’s history. This embarrassment would possibly lead to him slitting his wrists, OK, please run.

  13. Karma says:

    Ben Franklin was so ahead of his time: When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.
    And this:Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.

  14. Outsider says:

    Two years ago 500 of my coworkers were laid off. Fifteen percent of the office staff were shown the door on Friday afternoon. Management’s 401k matches were temporarily suspended. Yes, I said “401k” matches, not retirement pensions. The problem was, we were losing money and didn’t have the option of printing more money or taking more from the taxpayers; we had to do what real businesses have to do: face reality. Fortunately, we have returned to profitability and I still have my job. The point is, why do some believe government employees should be immune from the economic realities of the world? Why do people have so much dislike for a balanced (responsible) budget? The concept of government workers having some right to guaranteed security and prosperous retirement is no longer the reality. Scott did do what had to be done when there was a massive budget deficit. Now, things are improving a bit, and maybe through his experience as governor he recognizes the importance of education and has restored as much as possible of what had to be taken. If people have a hard time dealing with budget cuts and fiscal responsibility, they’re going to have a tough time dealing with our not so bright economic future. You may not like it, but you may as well get used to it. President Santa Claus will run out of money.

  15. Bob Z. says:

    To all of you Scott supporters: He used the 3% of the pension contributions to balance the budget, not shore up the pension fund as he told everyone that was the reason he was doing it.

    Otherwise, just as he just did for teachers, expect him to promise something for the state employees that have not had a raise in almost 7 years…he needs to butter up as many as possible to get votes next year. He can propose anything to anyone in his budget and when the legislature shoots it down he can say he tried…it doesn’t fool me.

  16. Sherry Epley says:

    Flaglerlive and contributors, Well Done and Happy New Year! You are always a refreshing voice in this wilderness of conservative, negative, “blinders on”, short sighted, emotional, knee jerk reactionism.

    It’s so interesting and troubling to me that few people see the big picture of the degradition of our once great society, civilization, and culture by connecting the dots and realizing that it is all inter-related. We are all glorious humans, attempting to evolve, while struggling with the frailties of our species.

    When our citizens move away from even considering contributing to the “common good” by paying reasonable taxes, and actively placing into public office ( AKA voting) honest, open minded, intelligent people who truly represent their constituents. . . self interested greed and corruption fills that void. When our citizens call for smaller (not better) government and less regulation, the quality of the goods produced, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the houses we live in, the jobs we have, the education of our children, the infrastructure that keeps the lights on, the banks honest, the mail moving, the roads and bridges safe. . . and on and on. . . is diminished because self interested greed and corruption fills that void.

    The opposite of love is not hate, it is FEAR. Think about it, all negative emotions are based on fear. And, when the media plays us like fiddles, emotionally appealing to to our baser instincts, and fills us with fear. . . fear of “THEM”. . . anyone with a different political perspective, skin color, income, religion, gender, sexual preference, or language, and fear of the people “we” put in office. . . we are divided and greatly weakened. . . self interested greed and corruption fills that void.

    We are now living with what we have, ourselves, created. . . LESS for our people:

    . LESS Safety
    . LESS Income
    . LESS Respect
    . LESS Influence
    . LESS Unity
    . LESS Job Satisfaction
    . LESS Security
    . LESS Character (ethics, integrity, honesty, etc.)
    . LESS Education
    . LESS Compassion/Tolerance. . . . and on and on

    It’s appalling to me to read many of you write that LESS is all we deserve. You compare one LESS to another, as though two “wrongs” make a “right”. Self Interested greed and corruption has clearly permeated our way of being. It is taking its terrible toll on our entire country, and by our very bad example, the rest of the world. We can move our degenerating civilization toward a more positive and healthy future. The question is whether will do it. . . and do it in time.

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