While Gov. Rick Scott was cheered by supporters Tuesday night inside Angie’s Subs in Jacksonville Beach, a large group protested outside with signs and chants.
Scott was there to hail what he considered important wins for families and students during last week’s special legislative session.
But the scores of protesters, mostly public school teachers and supporters, didn’t like one of the bills passed by state lawmakers and now awaiting Scott’s signature.
House Bill 7069 will shift some state and federal education money to privately run charter schools.
“It’s a massive redistribution of educational funds from traditional public schools to for-profit charter corporations,” said Luke Flynt, secretary-treasurer of the Florida Education Association. “He has 15 days to veto it or it becomes law.”
Inside the popular sub shop, the mood was jubilant as supporters crowded around Scott on his last stop of the day on his “Fighting for Florida’s Future Victory” tour.
The tour included stops in Miami, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers and Tampa, during which he highlighted what his office said is an all-time budget high of K-12 per-pupil spending, the establishment of the $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, full funding for Visit Florida, and $50 million to repair the dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee.
Scott had ordered legislators back to Tallahassee for a special three-day session because he didn’t like the new state budget they had approved. He said it would derail the economy and eliminate jobs.
Lawmakers also had slashed the budget for Visit Florida, the state’s tourism agency, but during the special session it was restored.
At Angie’s Subs, Scott was joined by Republican Rep. Cord Byrd, who represents District 11. The district includes the Jacksonville Beaches. He was introduced by Angie’s Sub owner Ed Malin, a fan of the governor.
Byrd said before Scott arrived that he was pleased with the Visit Florida funding.
“There is more money to advertise for the state, to promote the state around the U.S. and the world,” Byrd said. “We want to attract tourists to our area, to help small businesses, just like the one we are in now.”
Scott said the budget will be able to increase K-12 education by $100 per student and he also stressed his support of small businesses. Saying he had 537 days left in office, “I’ve got to make something happen every day.”
Outside, protesters chanted for Scott to veto “7069.”
Flynt said teachers from around the state are in the area for training this week.
“And when we heard this morning that he would be here, it presented the perfect opportunity,” he said.