Bills Introduced That Would Give Florida Teachers $10,000 Raise

January 29, 2013

State Rep. Kevin Rader (D-Delray Beach), and state Sen. Joe Abruzzo (D-Wellington), have decided to try and do something about Florida teachers being grossly underpaid by way of introducing a dual-bill that would give the average Florida teacher a $10,000 raise.

Teachers being paid more in Florida. This could actually be a thing.

Should the bills pass as currently drafted, Florida teachers would get their raise in two years.

"It's disgusting to state that teachers make far less than the national average, and nobody ever does anything about it," said Rader.

"We're paying our teachers $10,000 less than the rest of the nation," Abruzzo said. "To me, that's wrong."

Indeed.

The bill is slated to be a state constitutional amendment on the November ballot and, if approved by voters, would have all Florida teachers -- vets and newbies alike -- earning at least the national average salary for teachers.

The national average is around $56,000. 

Here in Florida? About $46,000.

Rick Scott has introduced his own plan calling for $480 million in state money to give every teacher a $2,500 raise. But Abruzzo filed his bill long before Scott's announcement.

The big question, of course, is where will the funding come from? 

There are tens of thousands of public school teachers working in Florida. Abruzzo gives no answer to that, just yet. But says that the raises would not kick in until 2015, so the Legislature has two years to figure out where the money will come from.

But with the governor's chair up for grabs a year before that, this issue could hit the front burner as Scott and whomever the Dems decide to throw out against him, grapple for votes by way of promising unicorns and rainbows for everyone, in addition to the raises.

As ever -- and as it goes in Florida -- it's a complex issue with many hurdles. But, just having the bills introduced shows that an effort is at least being made to improve things.

And, in Florida, that alone is a minor miracle.

"When you're shackled with debt and shackled with fear, it is hard," Don Persson, a teacher who attended the meeting with Radar and Abruzzao said. "Hearing some of these bills kind of takes the shackles off."