Former health care exec Rick Scott, elected as Florida's next governor, wasn't the only big Republican winner in the state on election night. The GOP also picked up enough seats in the state's legislature to secure a veto-proof majority. And Republican statehouse leaders are wasting no time, staging a session in which they'll attempt to power right through nine of lame-duck Gov. Charlie Crist's vetoes.
But one measure that apparently hasn't made the veto-override list, despite broad Republican support, is Senate Bill 6, the controversial teacher merit pay proposal, which caused a firestorm after passing the legislature, and which Crist killed with a swipe of his pen.
Incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos laid out their goals for overriding vetos this week. It appears that they wanted to take a slower approach to addressing the issue—perhaps not surprising, given the measure's polarizing nature.
In a post-election interview with the Florida Channel, Haridopolos acknowledged the fight-to-the-death nature of the debate sparked by the bill's passage.
"We know how controversial Senate Bill 6 was," the senator said. "It went through the [legislative] steps, but even on the floor, [there were] a lot of the misconceptions about what it was, versus what it was not. The best way to take away those misconceptions is to have as many hearings as possible, give everyone a voice, but at the end of the day, decisions will be made."
Of course, opponents of Senate Bill 6 wouldn't describe their objections to it as misconceptions.
Worth noting: Florida's winning, $700-million federal Race to the Top grant application already includes elements of merit pay. It gives school districts leeway in working out the details for those evaluation-and-pay plans, something critics of Senate Bill 6 faulted it for not doing. And unlike the senate bill, which was reviled by teachers' unions, the Race to the Top blueprint won significant union backing.
So for the moment, at least, when it comes to debating a big teacher-pay bill, Republican legislators might figure the juice ain't worth the squeezing.