TAMPA - One week before he is sworn in as governor, Rick Scott's ambitious agenda is causing both cheer and gloom.
His most controversial plan would provide school vouchers for almost any family that wanted to take their child out of public schools. But on this issue, not everybody wants him to get to work.
Spending public money on private or religious schools has already been ruled unconstitutional by Florida's Supreme Court, but incoming Governor Rick Scott has made it clear that he wants families to be able to attend charter, private or even online schools with education tax dollars.
Democratic State Representative Rick Kriseman of St. Petersburg fears a widespread voucher plan will strip public schools of students and resources.
"I don't' know how you implement his program without destroying public education as we know it," said Kriseman, who was one of about a dozen lawmakers to meet with Rick Scott in Tampa on Tuesday.
In a brief Q and A with reporters, the Governor-elect said he supports public schools, but when asked how his voucher plan would pass legal muster, Scott gave no details saying, "I'm going to talk to a lot of people all around the state to see what makes sense for the state -- whatever's in the best interest of kids."
From what has been revealed so far, students opting out of their free public school could take up to $5,500 dollars of tax money with them. That amount falls far short of the tuition charged at top schools like Carrollwood Day School at $10,900 or Berkeley Preparatory which starts at $15,000 dollars a year.
Republican Senator Ronda Storms of Brandon believes the voucher amount would be adequate.
"We paid about 3,900 dollars a year for an excellent private school education. You can get a good private school education particularly in the elementary years" said Storms who will be an ally to Rick Scott.
But education vouchers will face lots of opposition from public school teachers, their unions and Democratic lawmakers like Rick Kriseman.
"What I'd like to see is for parents to have a choice of what public school they send their kids too and that all public schools are operating at a high level."
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Parents and students have an opportunity to put a dent in the bottom line of their back-to-school shopping list by taking advantage of the Sales Tax Holiday which runs until midnight August 14.