Gov. Rick Scott wants the Florida Legislature to approve a 5 percent pay raise for about 4,000 state law enforcement officers in next year’s budget.
Scott, who has generally opposed across-the-board raises for all state workers during his six years in office, made the proposal at a Florida Highway Patrol station in Orlando Thursday. He cited their heroic efforts at the Pulse nightclub massacre in June, followed by two hurricanes and a tropical storm.
“We must always do everything we can to recognize our law enforcement officers and let them know how much we appreciate their service,” Scott said in a statement. “It is thanks to their hard work and sacrifice that Florida persevered through these difficult times and has achieved a 45-year crime rate low.”
The Republican governor said he has attended 32 funerals for fallen law enforcement officers since he took office in January 2011.
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Scott has advocated performance-based bonuses for state workers in most of his budgets. Last year he vetoed a $2,000 raise for state forestry firefighters, who did receive a pay raise in the current year’s budget.
Scott’s request, which will be in his proposed budget for fiscal 2017-18, would cover sworn officers who work in nine state agencies, the governor’s office said.
They include the Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Department of Financial Services, Lottery, Agriculture and Consumer Services, Business and Professional Regulation, attorney general and Florida School for the Deaf and Blind.
Scott’s pay raise would not include the more than 22,000 correctional officers who work in Florida prisons. Like other state workers, they have received only one small raise in the past decade. Correctional officers voted last month to fire the Teamsters as their bargaining agent and rehired the Police Benevolent Association, which represented prison guards until 2011.
By making police pay raises a priority, Scott will likely have to bow to the Legislature’s spending priorities as part of the political give-and-take of building the next budget in the legislative session that begins March 7.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, has already raised doubts about the ability to pay for two of the priorities of Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, to ramp up spending for state universities and the environment.
“The budget, I think, is going to be difficult,” Corcoran told Capitol reporters last week. “My hunch is ... that we’re going to be, at best, flat-lined, and at worst, we could have a deficit.”
Contact Steve Bousquet at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @stevebousquet.