Listen: Lynn Lynn, Legislature, Florida. discussed on Florida Matters
"You're talking about a lot of money In addition to that he also wants another three hundred million dollars for a bonus program. You're talking when all is said and done about a billion dollar boost Into K twelve and the question that lawmakers have and where he's already he's starting to run into the pushback is where the heck are we going to get. That billion dollars from something is going to have to give and already you're seeing a little bit of blowback on that proposal. I think House Speaker. Jose Leyva who was very sort of Luke warm to it And then you're GONNA have to deal with you know if they pass and if they allocate this money how does it filter down because teacher pay is something that is negotiated down at the Individual School district level so Aw that is probably one of the biggest priorities for session and that is definitely going to be one that involves a lot of tug of war between the Legislature Governor to Santa Mantis. And even the Teacher's Union. So William I mean one thing that legislators must do and really the only thing that they must do during the session is pass a budget and this is a good money year. This is not a lean year. The economy's going along pretty well. What does the money looked like this year? Lynn was mentioning more money towards education. Is that going to be a battle because the state does have some money. It's certainly will be a battle. The state does have some money. But it also has some major needs needs Education is one of them. The prison system is another world. Probably talk about that later and this could be one of the governor Rhonda Santa's first real conflicts with the legislature. Because after he's how wonderful honeymoon for its first year office Because he has staked himself self out for a sharp increase teacher. Pay On and as Lynn mention some Some legislators including Jose Alita the very powerful speaker from the State House are not super crazy about the idea. It doesn't seem like one of the most divisive issues. Everybody likes to see money going towards education. Everybody likes to see teachers. Paid more. You you hardly ever hear people shouting. No we don't want more money for teachers. Sure but the question is how much and how they they do it the And the the Teachers Union. The teachers themselves are not crazy about about dishonest proposal. Because it's yet another bonus US program. The dirty little secret here is that the Republican legislature does not want to simply appropriate enough money for the schools to pay teachers well because because as Lynn mentioned salaries are actually negotiated at the district level with the Teachers Union and the Republican. Legislators hate the Teacher's Union and don't want to to do anything that would involve them with the process. They want to themselves set the amounts of money that teachers get and set the criteria for it. And that's why we end end up with these endless bonus programs instead of simply teachers roses coming in this program would be in addition to the raises right Len. Well yes but keep in mind again to what Williams said they want it to go to forty seven five. How do you get there when the legislature created the best and brightest program That by all accounts was a failure and they did it so that they could circle invent the teachers unions. So the question is how do you get to that level and keep in mind. That's only for starting teachers. What about those who have been teaching for five ten fifteen twenty years? This is a real point of contention. How do you do it while trying to go around the unions when you know the the the law the Constitution gives that negotiating power to the local unions? So you have a real issue here both with breath how how the legislature will do it whether or not they're going to try and put this bonus component in which is what governor Santa's wants and even when they put some of this money into k twelve. There's still a lot of trickle-down going on here. So it's complicated. It's not just as simple as saying we're going to do this and get it done. I just wanted to point out the best. And we mentioned the best and brightest program. And that's the thing. Yeah that's the existing bonus program. That's just gotten gotten a lot of of opposition so so lynn mentioned the problem. That this that this Pay Program the salary increase would affect only starting and teachers and then you'd have teachers with five or more years experience who are suddenly making the same amount as people just tired fresh out of school but Lynn. Correct me if I'm wrong. Isn't there another a problem that there are some counties including I think Miami Dade where the starting pay is already higher than the four that descend US wants to set. Yes yes there are and so the question becomes well what happens in places like Miami Dade places I think Broward another high. Pay County where you're already at or above that level. There's no answer to that right now and so. I think that some of the concerns that some of the lawmakers have raised about out how they go about doing this are legitimate And it was interesting to me. The Senate has already voted to start moving forward to repealed press best and brightest and they to raised some of these concerns while admitting that the bonus programme did not work out exactly as they thought thought it would so very big goal one of those you know big hairy audacious goals that's been laid out but the question is how do we get there and you're going to kind of conceal you're going to see that as we get closer and closer toward the end of session and into budget talks that's going to get really complicated and really really weedy so I haven't really heard anything new about charter schools This year William. Anything is the battle for that pretty much over her. I don't know that it's over and but what happened was last year and last year session. The legislature passed a major piece of legislation that made a fundamental change in allowing state funding to go to private schools And it's also passed a lot of favorite of legislation recently favorable to charter schools. What what they did last year was for the first time they allowed state tax revenue to go directly to to private schools through the the voucher program in the past? What's what's been happening is? Corporate tax payers were allowed to divert their tax money into contributions to agencies that provided vouchers for private schools. Now for the first time Money that's already been paid to the state and taxes can go from the treasury into those programs and this this is of course a major change and raises a constitutional issue. And it's being litigated. There's a lawsuit against it so I don't think you'll see anything coming up in this year's legislative session that will be as major as what past and is now being litigated And last year session so moving on you mentioned the the Prison System William and one of our local legislators state Senator Jeff brandis of Saint Petersburg has really been pushing hard for reforms to the state's criminal final justice system. Can you tell us a little bit about that sure. Well what's happened. Is that the secretary of the Department of Corrections. Mark Inch recently recently made a report to the legislature to the effect that the state's prison system essentially is in crisis because of low pay staff turnover over the kind of budgetary problems that have resulted in thousands and thousands of of brand new inexperienced guards on duty of staying being forced to work twelve hour shifts mandatory overtime and basically inches warning was that the problems have gotten so bad that he fears they could easily lead to major violence within the Florida prisons. He even has asked all of his the high level staff of the prison system. I'm to read a book about a deadly riot in nineteen eighty in New Mexico and how that riot occurred fearing that something similar could happen here. The in addition to that there have been several three or four incidents over the last year in which violence by prison staff members. Prison guards against inmates resulted in major scandals including one incident in our calipers and left a woman inmate paralyzed from the neck down for life. After a beating I several guards. This is going to be a critical issue for the legislature to face. And it's going to require to solve. It is just going to require money. So Jeff Brenda specifically I know has been looking at reform packages to reduce the sentences of young adults and juvenile offenders. Lynn Lynn. Can you tell us about that. Yeah so a lot of the proposals are dealing with issues like gain time. which is you know getting time off for good behavior and mandatory minimum reform? We've been talking about these things for years. Last year brand had a really ambitious plan that if the legislature had approved it. I believe that state economists had estimated. It can save more than eight hundred million over ten years. You're talking about Florida. which is a state that has the third highest prison population with some of the lowest paid employees to sort of guard that population our prisons? Thousands are crumbling. You saw a lot of damage due to many of them during the last few hurricanes so this is a serious issue and Brandis has really been pushing to reduce the state's prison population. You know it's going to take a lot of money to be put into the system to bring a lot of these facilities up to code up to par but Florida does not want to build any more prisons. So what do you do you either. Invest the money or you reduce the population that you have to guard either way. Something has to give and I think that the book that Secretary has been circulating. It's called The Devil's butcher shop. And he's been very passionate about that. He's been talking to anybody. You know who will give him a microphone to say we have to do something and this is coming coming off about a decade long push to sort of cut the corrections budget cut cut cut cut cut and now it's sort of at a at a very Critical stage so now. It's time to cut sentencing. I guess mandatory sentencing which has become controversial that something that lawmakers want to change and also reducing sentences for for the younger offenders and maybe for a less serious drug offenses things like that I. I personally think it's interesting to note robin that that these kinds of proposals Eliminating Mandatory minimums in many cases on allowing gain time in mini cases. Basically all they're doing is undoing. The anti the get tough on crime steps that were taken in the nineteen ninety. You're listening to Florida matters. We're going to take a short break and we'll be right back. This is Florida matters. I'm Robin Sussing Ham. And today we're talking about the upcoming state legislative session. My guests are William March longtime political reporter and Tampa Bay Times correspondent and Lynn had her the news director at W. FSU which is the NPR member station in Tallahassee.."