Tallahassee, FL -
26 yeas, 12 nays, Mister President.
Barely 48t hours after lawmakers returned to the capitol, and in the Senate, education reform is already a done deal. All but one Democrat voted against a bill that would eliminate teacher tenure and make pay increases dependent on student test scores. But, the bill's Republican architect says it also includes a long list of concessions.
Senator Stephen Wise, (R) Jacksonville, says, "We think we've put together a plan that's not perfect, but we've put the skeleton together so that we can have the school districts participate in this, because it's going to be their plan."
Members, please - for God's sake!
Meanwhile, the house has given final approval to a bill that would cut unemployment benefits by six weeks. It would also tighten eligibility, expanding the list of fireable offenses where businesses wouldn't have to pay the taxes that provide benefits for former employees.
Rep. Rick Kriseman /(D) St. Petersburg, says, "It will now allow your employer to have a say over how you behave in the mall, while dining at a restaurant and, worse, in your home. How is this less government? How is this less regulation? How is this government staying out of our lives?"
Republicans have championed the unemployment compensation bill as a way of reducing the tax burden on business and ultimately sparking hiring. Both that bill and the education reform legislation still have to make it through one more chamber before reaching the governor's desk.
Next week, the house has scheduled a marathon, 21-hour debate on education reform. A final vote could come as late as 1 am on Thursday morning.