Florida governor approves pay raises for state workers


Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation Wednesday providing across-the-board pay raises to state employees for the first time since 2013, but remained mum on whether he would also approve a wide-ranging and controversial education bill.

In a ceremony for veterans at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in Tallahassee, Scott signed the compensation legislation (SB 7022), a key priority of Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater.

RELATED: Read The Post’s Florida Legislature coverage

“With the signing of this bill, our state employees will receive a well-deserved pay raise, and our state law enforcement officers will receive a 5 percent raise for their life-saving work,” Scott said.

The bill includes a complex matrix of raises for different state employees. Employees making $40,000 or less will get a $1,400 boost to their pay, while those making more will get an additional $1,000.

State law enforcement officers will get a 5 percent hike, while most current correctional officers will get an extra $2,500 a year. There will also be $1,000 hiring bonuses for some prisons.

State corrections officials have pushed for higher pay to try to retain quality workers in response to a string of reports of inmate deaths and brutality by prison guards, allegations of cover-ups and corruption and low morale.

Judges, state attorneys and public defenders will see 10 percent raises. There are also different increases for a handful of other positions in state government, mostly in the legal field or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

“We want to make sure we keep the most talented and dedicated professional staffers in our state workforce,” Latvala said in a statement issued after Scott’s action. “These employees guard our prisons, protect our highways, care for abused and neglected children, and perform hundreds of other tasks that are in many cases thankless or unnoticed by many Floridians.”

The legislation also includes changes to health insurance and retirement plans for state employees. For example, it includes a change long sought by House Republicans that would put state employees into a 401(k)-style retirement plan unless they specifically opt for the state’s traditional pension system. Currently, workers “default” into the pension plan.

State workers and some Democrats have opposed those changes, saying they undermine the current pension system and could harm new state employees. But business groups support the overhaul.

Scott signed 28 other bills Wednesday and vetoed a higher-education measure (SB 374) that was a priority of Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart.

But after the ceremony, Scott brushed off a question about whether he will sign a broad public education bill (HB 7069) that includes provisions on charter schools, teacher bonuses, state testing, recess and more.

Supporters have said the bill will help improve the state’s education system, while critics have lambasted it as a step towards privatizing public schools. Critics also say it was cobbled together behind closed doors in the final days of the regular legislative session.

Rumors have spread that Scott will sign the bill, perhaps as soon as Thursday. But the governor didn’t reveal his plan to reporters.

“I’m going to be careful in reviewing the bill and I’m going to act in the best interest of all of the students and the parents in our state,” he said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

DeVos hit with two lawsuits in one day over backlog of student debt relief claims
DeVos hit with two lawsuits in one day over backlog of student debt relief claims

Pressure is mounting on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to take action on thousands of federal student loan forgiveness applications languishing at the U.S. Department of Education.  On Thursday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra suedDeVos and the department for failing to process more than 50,000 debt relief claims submitted by former...
Ivanka Trump, her brand dropped by some retailers, opens her own store in Trump Tower
Ivanka Trump, her brand dropped by some retailers, opens her own store in Trump Tower

Ivanka Trump's fashion company on Thursday opened a new store in the lobby of Trump Tower, where it plans to sell handbags, jewelry and candles as part of broader push to bypass retailers and sell directly to consumers.  The store in Midtown Manhattan — currently the company's only bricks-and-mortar location — comes after a number...
Music promoter dangled possible Putin meeting for Trump during campaign
Music promoter dangled possible Putin meeting for Trump during campaign

About a month after Donald Trump launched his presidential bid, a British music promoter suggested his Russian pop-star client could arrange for the new candidate to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to an email obtained by The Washington Post.  The July 2015 offer by publicist Rob Goldstone came about a year before he set...
Farenthold won’t seek re-election amid allegations of sexual harassment
Farenthold won’t seek re-election amid allegations of sexual harassment

A congressman under scrutiny for allegations that he sexually harassed female staff members and created a hostile work environment announced Thursday that he will not seek reelection next year.  Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, who settled a complaint with his former communications director but denied wrongdoing in the case, plans to serve out...
Trump chose five families to argue for tax bill; their stories show the reality is complicated
Trump chose five families to argue for tax bill; their stories show the reality is complicated

Bryant and Ashley Glick of New Holland, Pa., got a call Monday asking if the couple would like to come to the White House and meet President Donald Trump. They couldn't say yes fast enough.  By Wednesday, the Glicks were one of five families standing with Trump as the president made his "closing argument" in support of Republicans' plan...
More Stories