Legislation on hold as governor addresses COVID-19 impacts

Published: Mar. 26, 2020 at 4:02 PM EDT
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By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service

March 26, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Governor Ron DeSantis is putting legislation passed in the 2020 session on hold as he waits to see the full economic impacts of the coronavirus.

Teacher pay raises are among the proposals that could hang in the balance.

Florida lawmakers passed 210 bills during the 2020 session, but only a handful have actually made it to Governor Ron DeSantis, who has asked the legislature to hold them.

His focus is elsewhere.

“My office has been 24/7 on COVID-19,” said DeSantis.

And his schedule shows, every item on his agenda has been coronavirus related.

If the legislature were to send him bills, he’d have 15 days to veto, sign or let them become law.

“I think it would probably not be a good use of my time to be going through a lot of the legislation right now,” said DeSantis.

There’s also the question of how badly the economy will be hit.

That puts almost everything in question, including a proposed $500 million allocation for teacher pay raises.

“We're a significant part of that budget this year,” said Florida Education Association President, Fedrick Ingram.

Ingram hopes the governor considers the role teachers are playing throughout the outbreak, including their shift to online learning.

“I think if you put out any survey parents will tell you that teachers are first responders. They're educational first responders,” said Ingram.

The governor did say he doesn’t want to jeopardize teacher pay, but also doesn’t want to act hastily during these uncertain times.

“That would not be where I would want to go, but look I think the budget is in flux let's just put it that way,” said DeSantis. “So I'm not going to go do a signing ceremony tomorrow about any of this stuff until we kind of get our feet under us a little bit more.”

If signed, the pay raises would take effect July 1.

$400 million for raising base teacher pay and another $100 million for veteran teachers and other school staff.

Along with putting legislation on hold, the governor has also chosen to delay the appointment of two Supreme Court Justices.

They were required to be selected by March 23.