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Rick Scott pledges $1 million to STEM teachers for summer intern program

With revenues finally pouring into state coffers after the lengthy recession and its hangover, Gov. Rick Scott made frequent appearances in the Tampa Bay area in 2014, often promoting tax-cut plans or new government spending on education, transportation or the environment.

Critics alleged the largesse was due to his trying to curry favor with the voters as he faced a tough re-election campaign, but Scott said that the improving state budget allowed him to make those investments.

Today, Gov. Scott kept up that momentum on education spending, announcing $1 million in proposed funding to partner with high-tech companies in Florida to create a paid summer residency program for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teachers to bring new industry trends in STEM fields back to Florida’s K-12 classrooms. In addition to that program, the governor’s budget for FY 2015-16 also proposes $30 million for a new workforce training initiative focused on STEM occupations and $5 million to incentivize $10,000 STEM degrees at Florida state colleges.

“As I talk to STEM teachers around the state, they’re excited about this,” Scott said in his prepared remarks. “If you talk to teachers around the state they’re always interested in learning, not just teaching.”

The governor made the announcement at the corporate home of Chromalloy, a global technology company located in Tampa’s Sabal Park just east of the Florida Fairgrounds. Chromalloy is one of 16 companies the governor’s office announced today have already agreed to participate in the STEM Residency Program.

Last week the governor announced that he was following through on his campaign pledge to spend more money in K-12 per pupil spending in the state’s history, and at $7,176 per student, it ranks as the highest ever, $50 more than the all-time high set in 2007-08.

Yesterday in Seminole County he proposed a $470 million cut to a state tax that consumers pay on cellphones, land lines and cable or satellite TV.

“As we put money back in families’ hands — guess what? — they can pay the rent, they can buy a car, help keep our economy going, maybe even start a business,” Scott said during a news conference at the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce.

But that might be a stretch, considering that, according to the Governor’s office, a family spending $100 a month on cellphones and cable or satellite TV would save about $43 annually from the reduction.

Nevertheless, such announcements undoubtedly are important for Team Scott right now as the headlines regarding the ouster of former FDLE head Gerald Bailey continue to dominate his press coverage. After the governor’s short press conference announcing the STEM residency plan (in which he arrived more than 20 minutes late), he then took questions from the press corps, four of the five revolving around the Bailey controversy.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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