TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) - The two leading candidates for governor on Tuesday launched competing plans to improve Florida’s education system.
Republican Ron DeSantis wants to increase merit pay for teachers by requiring 80 percent of school funding to be spent in the classrooms and not on administration. DeSantis also wants to expand school voucher programs.
Meanwhile, Democrat Andrew Gillum outlined a proposal to provide a minimum $50,000 starting salary for teachers by increasing the state corporate income tax by $1 billion.
During a news conference in Tallahassee, Gillum said his “Fair Share for Florida’s Future” plan would also spend more money annually on school construction and early childhood education programs.
“You can tell a state’s or people’s priorities by where they spend their money," said Gillum. "I want this state to be measured by the investments that we make in kids. Not into as many tax breaks as we can manage, but in our children.”
Some are leery of the economics of Gillum’s plan.
Robert Weissert with the fiscal think tank Florida TaxWatch feels teacher pay can be increased by finding savings within the current education budget, rather than through raising taxes.
“Why is it that the only way we can raise teacher salaries, which should be done, is to make the system $31 billion, instead of finding just three percent's savings within a $30 billion dollar system?" said Weissert. "Freeing up that money and reallocating it is something we know will improve student learning.”
Gillum’s plan would increase the state’s corporate tax rate from 5.5 percent to 7.75 on some of Florida’s richest businesses.