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DeSantis Brushes Off FEA Rally, Touts Public Support For His Teacher Pay Plan

Ryan Dailey

Governor Ron DeSantis says he’s confident in public support for his proposal to boost starting teacher salaries to $47,500 dollars.

On the eve of the legislative session, thousands of teachers rallied at the Capitol, demanding higher pay. It was led by statewide teachers union the Florida Education Association, which rejects his proposal. But without citing which specific poll, DeSantis told reporters his plan has majority support from Democratic voters.

"We live in a very polarized time. If you attach a Democrat’s name to something, Republicans tend not to like it and vice versa. Even with my name attached as a Republican, you still had over 90 percent of Democrat voters think that having a minimum salary of $47,500 is a good thing."

DeSantis says he "thinks we're going to be able to get a lot of this done," referring to the legislature passing a teacher pay plan along the lines of what he's asked for - which would take an investment of $600 million.

"What I say is, what's the broader public want on some of this stuff? And if you're with what the broader people want, you're going to be okay," the governor told reporters. 

DeSantis took a shot at the FEA after bringing up the poll numbers, "I would much rather have the population with me, than an interest group."

The FEA released a statement in response to DeSantis' State of the State address Monday. Its president, Fedrick Ingram, said: "So far the solutions offered by DeSantis are the same ‘solutions’ that have been offered for the past two decades: further encroachment on local control and the seventh bonus program in 14 years. You can't fix the problem with the same policies that created it.”

A handful of teacher pay plans are filed in each chamber, representing different solutions to the same problem. On Monday, Democratic lawmakers rolled out a plan they say will raise salaries for school workers over the next few years using the same investment DeSantis is asking for.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.