Crist Vetoes Controversial Teacher Merit Pay Bill
Following weeks of heated debate, Governor Charlie Crist officially vetoed Senate Bill 6 today. The controversial measure would have tied teacher bonus pay to student performance, something the state's teachers union has strongly opposed.
State Senator John Thrasher, the driving force behind the bill, expressed his clear disappointment at the veto.
"It goes without saying that I am disappointed," said Thrasher, who is also Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. "I continue to think that one day it will be fully implemented in our state."
Indeed, Crist's veto drew harsh response from many Republicans.
"Governor Crist said the bill was contrary to his principles. It is becoming difficult to determine what those principles are when he will say one thing and then do another," said Republican State Senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla. "Today's veto is a political stunt."
"Governor Crist is playing political games with our children's education," said Rep. John Tobia, a freshman Republican from Satellite Beach.
While most blasted the Governor, not all Republican lawmakers were outraged. State Senator and Gubernatorial candidate Paula Dockery spoke up for Crist.
“I congratualte the Governor for showing tremendous courage in standing with the teachers, parents and students and doing the right thing by vetoing SB 6,” Dockery told the Lakeland Ledger.
State Senator Mike Fasano, a Crist supporter who voted for SB 6, agreed that the governor's veto was a "courageous" move.
"This was no longer a teacher's union issue,'' Fasano said. "This Senate Bill 6 took on a life of its own and I saw that in my district when hard-core Republicans, who vote in Republican primaries, were contacting me...telling me to urge the governor to veto the bill. This was no longer a union, or Democratic issue. This he went beyond that.''
Ultimately, Crist's decision to buck his own party's leadership will only add fuel to speculation that he's considering running for the U.S. Senate as an independent.