News from the Capitol


This week, both the House and Senate included funding in their budget proposals to increase education funding and provide pay raises for Florida teachers.

On Tuesday, Governor Scott met with the Palm Beach Post editorial board and discussed his priorities for this session, including education funding and a pay raise for teachers.  From the Palm Beach Post Extra Credit blog:
“As you know, my first year I had a $3.7 billion budget deficit. Second year a $1.7, but we were able to find savings in other areas and increase K-12 funding a little over $1 billion. You saw my budget proposal for this year; $1.2 billion for K-12, which includes a $2,500 pay raise for our teachers. And the rationale for that is if you look at Education Week, we’re now No. 6 as far as education quality, the 6th-best state, fourth-graders are No. 2 in the world in reading, National Council of Teacher Quality says we have the most effective teachers.”


We asked Gov. Scott why – given Florida’s Education Week ranking and other proof of the state’s high-quality teaching and schools – he insists on also implementing the new teacher evaluation system. He responded:

“I believe in evaluations.” He said, that, “Being in business, I know that when you measure things they improve. … I think that teacher evaluation is the right thing to do. Now, as you probably know, when (Education Commissioner Tony Bennett) came on, I asked him to go and review the evaluation system because some have expressed concerns, so I’ve asked him to sit down with the teachers and superintendents to make sure how we do the evaluation is fair. Y’know, I think we all want to be evaluated based on our own performance.”


HB 391 by Rep. Mary Lynn Magar passed the House Economic Affairs and Tourism Committee 9-3 on Wednesday.  More than 30 companies and associations came to testify in support of the legislation.  Thank you to everyone that attended.  From The Current’s Gray Rohrer:

HB 391, eliminating the sales tax on machinery and equipment for manufacturing companies, passed through the House Economic Development and Tourism Subcommittee on Wednesday. Bill sponsor Rep. MaryLynn Magar, R-Tequesta, said the measure would encourage manufacturing firms to make more investments and add jobs to the state.

“We are desperately in need of jobs here in the state of Florida,” Magar said. “Manufacturing jobs touch all of our districts.” 

Scott has a full court press on for the elimination of the manufacturing sales tax, which brings in $115 million for the state and $26 million for local governments each year.

Governor Scott was proud to join AT&T Florida President Marshall Criser this week to make a major jobs announcement.  From the Miami Herald story:

AT&T plans to add dozens of well-paying jobs to a Miami sales center dedicated to Spanish-speaking buyers of its U-verse service.

The communications giant announced it is adding about 350 new positions in Florida, with most of them in the South Florida area. The Miami center is the company’s largest Spanish-language sales center for U-verse, which delivers high-speed Internet, cable and telephone service to homes.

Gov. Rick Scott toured the call center, met workers wearing “Yo Soy AT&T” T-shirts, and made remarks announcing the hiring plans. “Thank you again for 350 more jobs for Florida families,” Scott told AT&T President Marshall Criser.

The call center has staffed Spanish operators in Miami since the 1970s, but AT&T recently consolidated Spanish U-verse sales there. It has a similar facility in Chicago, but the Miami operation at 600 NW 79th Avenue is by far the larger of the two, said sales director Gregory Acevedo.

This week, defense contractor Draken International announced its plans to expand in Lakeland.  From Fox 13:

Scott was at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport announcing the official expansion of a defense contractor business, which the governor says will bring in 55 jobs and invest more than $6 million in the area over the next three years.

“They could have expanded anywhere in the nation. They could have expanded even outside of the country, but thanks to this great business climate and our incredible workforce this expansion made sense for our great state,” Scott said.

And finally, from this week’s What’s Working Today ticker:

It’s Working Florida ‏@ItsWorkingFL

Almost all 22 metro areas in FL saw over-the-year job gains in Feb.2013. @Tampa_Chamber @JacksonvilleCC @StPeteChamber @PcolaChamber

It’s Working Florida ‏@ItsWorkingFL

Today @jimcramer talked about how “It’s Working” in Florida. VIDEO:  #ItsWorking #sayfie


Opportunities in the week ahead

Eliminating the Sales Tax on Manufacturing Equipment

Both SB 518 and HB 391 are in their respective Finance and Tax Committees.  We will continue working with the bill sponsors and the Speaker and President to move the bills to the floor.  We anticipate at least one of the bills being heard again next week.

Rewarding Excellence with a $2,500 Pay Raise for Florida Teachers

This week, both the House and Senate will move toward Budget Conference.  Senator Negron has indicated that next weekend may be a busy weekend following an agreement on joint allocations, so we will be working hard with the education budget conferees to ensure that funding for teacher pay raises remain in the budget.

Special thanks to…

Rep. MaryLynn Magar

Thanks to all of you for your help in moving the Governor’s manufacturing proposal in HB 391 forward.