Gov. Rick Scott took his teacher-raise plan on the road Thursday, making a stop in Tampa to talk with teachers from Twin Lakes Elementary.
The governor's plan, announced the day before in Orange County, would give all full-time public school teachers a $2,500 raise. It would cost the state $480 million and still has to be approved by the Legislature, then doled out by local school districts as part of collective bargaining agreements.
Nicole Miller-Martin, a teacher for 12 years, was one of about 10 teachers who met with Scott privately before standing behind him during a news conference in the school's courtyard.
"I support it," the writing resource teacher said. "I shouldn't be struggling to support my family. Any extra help would be welcomed."
Miller-Martin said she wishes state legislators would spend time at schools to see the depth of teachers' work.
"We don't stop," she said. "There are many days I go without lunch."
Amy Murphy, a fourth-grade math and science teacher who has been at the school for eight years, said she spends nine to 10 hours a day at her job.
With Florida teachers making an average of $45,000 — about $10,000 less than the national average — Murphy said it's time for the state to start paying educators better.
"It's a little hurtful," she said of the low pay. "We do deserve this raise."
The raises are possible, the governor said, because the state's financial and economic outlooks have improved.
Florida's jobless rate is the lowest it has been in four years, and the state enjoyed record tourism last year that helped boost revenues.
"I can think of no better investment for this state," said Scott, who cut $1 billion from education his first year in office but plans an increase in education spending this year. "This is a great day for education."
When asked about other school employees and if they will get raises, the governor said he has revealed only part of his budget.
"I believe we need to make sure we take care of everybody," he said.
MaryEllen Elia, superintendent of Hillsborough County schools, appeared with Scott at the school on North Habana Avenue.
"We are always open to having you here, especially when you are bringing money," Elia said with a laugh.