Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday he wants to give all Florida teachers a $2,500 pay raise.
"I can think of no better investment for our state than investing in those teachers who work on the frontline of Florida's future every day by teaching our children," Scott said during a visit to an Orlando school.
His plan will cost a total of $480 million, he said. He also plans to increase education funding in the fall budget.
The Broward Teachers Union called it a small step in the right direction but remained wary of the move.
"The fact that the Governor is proposing raises after he just balanced the state budget on the backs of the state's middle class by imposing a 3 percent mandatory retirement income tax on all public employees rings pretty hollow for teachers and support staff," said BTU president Sharon Glickman.
Last week, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the pension bill requiring public employees - including teachers - to contribute 3 percent of their paychecks to a pension fund.
Glickman said Scott's announcement today coupled with the court ruling "will really bring teachers back to zero."
Debra Wilhelm, president of the Classroom Teachers Association in Palm Beach County said it was welcome news as many teachers "can't afford to pay their bills." But she cautioned there was still more to be done to restore respect and dignity to the profession.
Teachers in Broward and Palm Beach counties said they'd welcome the money, but remained skeptical of Scott.
"From the money that he stole from us he's going to give back a little bit," said Maria Fialkov, a teacher at Tropical Elementary in Plantation. "He robs a dollar and gives you back a dime."
An average salary for a teacher in Florida is about $46,000 a year, according to the state Department of Education - about a $10,000 difference from the national average.
"It's three steps forward two backwards," said Patty DeBiase, a teacher at Indian Trace Elementary in Weston. "We'll take the money because we need it, but it's not right."