March 31, 2011- I seem to be in fair company with writing this article, as a recent poll showed that Gov. Rick Scott has an approval rating of just 32 percent. On an assortment of issues from education funding to reductions in state workers’ salaries, the governor simply is in the wrong.
With everyone from janitors to judges receiving pay cuts, the governor decided that 10 new department heads warranted pay raises of $20,000, from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to the Department of Health. All the while, these departments face position cuts of 115 and 880, respectively.
It appears the only people Scott talked about who will do more with less will be the teachers because he and the state legislature worked in collusion to pass the merit-pay plan last week.
The merit-pay plan is flawed and simply will reward teachers for teaching in areas with students of higher socioeconomic status and punish those who teach students of lower socioeconomic standings. The nonpartisan Urban Institute concluded the positive effects of merit pay are short-lived. “By and large, the school districts we examined did not succeed at implementing lasting, effective, monetary or non-monetary incentive plans.” However, the study did conclude that an increase in divisiveness and decrease in morale harmed the teachers significantly. Even in the private sector, the trend has gone from merit-based pay earlier in the decade to a set salary schedule.
Another interesting item Scott is pushing for is mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients and random drug tests on state employees. Although these plans sound great on paper, the governor has not explained who is going to pay for the drug testing of state employees. (However, cabinet members and the state legislature are exempt!) The federal government outlines that the need for random drug testing is necessary only in cases where public safety is the No. 1 priority, such as for drivers. The state already had some trouble for a legislation that was struck down in 2004. With regards to the testing of welfare recipients, a Michigan court ruled that testing an individual without reason for suspicion violates the Fourth Amendment.