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Chris King Unveils Andrew Gillum's $1 Billion Education Plan

Chris King talks about Andrew Gillum's education plan in front of Plant High School
Chris King talks about Andrew Gillum's education plan in front of Plant High School

Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum's running mate came to Tampa Tuesday to unveil the Democrats' $1 billion " Fair Share for Florida's Future" plan to revamp the state's public schools.

Chris King stood outside Plant High School, where yellow tubes carrying air conditioning from emergency cooling systems snaked out of the building.

The Democratic plan would have teacher's salaries start at $50,000, and boost early childhood education programs. It would also allocated $100 million for school construction.

"We will be casting a vision that public schools need additional investment," King said. "We're facing an historic teacher shortage - that whether you're a Republican or a Democrat - we have to address with energy and creativity. And this is going to be one of our big ideas to do that."

These improvements would be paid for by a 2 percent hike in the corporate income tax - which King said may have to pass a Republican legislature.

"Well, we're very hopeful we may have a Senate majority," he said of mid-term elections that will also affect a number of Senatorial sports. "We're pushing hard for that, and that of course would change the calculus."

Gillum also unveiled his plan Tuesday in Tallahassee, saying, “Thanks to President Trump’s tax scam, Florida’s richest corporations will take home even more sacks of money than they already do,” he said in a statement.

“For decades they’ve gotten richer and richer, while working families have fallen further behind. Now, I’m proposing that the tiny fraction of Florida’s richest corporations pay their fair share, so we can invest in working families through world class public schools, a pay raise for teachers, early childhood education, and SHOP 2.0 vocational training.”

Gillum's Republican counterpart, Ron DeSantis, also visited a Tampa school on Tuesday. His plan would increase merit pay for teachers by requiring 80 percent of school funding be spent in the classrooms and not on administrators.

He told the Orlando Sentinelthat his plan calls for expanding on those programs, including increasing the cap for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, which parents with eligible incomes may use to put their children in private schools. The current cap is $873.6 million.

“Twenty years ago, decades of taking a cookie-cutter approach to educating our diverse youth culminated in a systemic failure across Florida’s education system,” DeSantis said in a released statement. “The system’s refusal to innovate and change resulted in scores of Florida’s children being robbed of the opportunity to improve their future and maximize their opportunities through getting a high-quality education.”

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Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.