Thursday, April 15, 2010

Veto

Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) has vetoed Senate Bill 6, the teacher-pay plan.

After weeks of protest and a deluge of messages, Gov. Charlie Crist on Thursday vetoed a bill that would link teacher pay to student test scores and wipe out tenure for new teachers.

”I know in my heart it’s the right thing to do,” Crist said of his veto.

His decision, announced shortly after noon Thursday, came as little surprise. Although Crist initially voiced support for the bill, he had distanced himself over the past week as protests mounted.

”I say we must start over,” the governor said. ”This bill has negatively affected the morale of our parents, teachers and students.”

With just a little over two weeks left in the session, many educators and politicians have expressed doubt the Legislature can rewrite the bill and get it passed.

This will not endear Mr. Crist to the Republicans, but he was probably not counting on them supporting him in the primary for the Senate race; they’re already in Marco Rubio’s camp. From a strictly political point of view, it was a zero-sum game for him; what he loses in right wing voters, he picks up in moderate and independent support, and he keeps the teachers happy who might not be inclined to vote for a Democrat but are creeped out by the idea of Mr. Rubio. Oh, and as an afterthought, the veto was the right thing to do for public education. In the world of Florida politics, however, that was hardly the most important part.

A year from now, when the state legislature goes after teachers again (if they dare), it won’t be his problem: he’ll either be the junior Senator from Florida — winning as the Independent in the three-way race — or he’ll be spending more time with the family.