January 31, 2018 Testimony on HB 7055 by FEA President Joanne McCall, in front of the Florida House Appropriations Committee:
Good morning. I am Joanne McCall, President of the Florida Education Association.
I am not sure when public school teachers became public enemy number one, but they have. For more than a decade this legislature has done nothing but demonize, demoralize and tear apart the teaching profession.
HB 7055 is just another example of that. You, the elected officials of this state, are sworn to uphold our constitution and make life better for Floridians. Yet you don’t. Instead, you create train bills like HB 7055 that threaten our neighborhood public schools and rob our students of the resources they desperately need.
The Florida Constitution forbids the combination of multiple subjects in a bill, stating: “Every law shall embrace but one subject and matter properly connected therewith, and the subject shall be briefly expressed in the title.”
And there are MANY ridiculous things in this bill.
HB 7055 is a massive 198-page bill with a 12-page title amendment that impacts 60 sections, and 58 statutes does anything but adhere to the portion of the constitution I just quoted.
The range of issues included in this bill is ridiculous. What does ‘Medal of Honor Day’ have to do with a lobby ban for appointed school superintendents? What does the latest attack on the bargaining rights of instructional personnel in our schools have to do with forcing school districts to give away unused property to charter schools?
It appears logrolling is to become the standard for doing legislative work in this state, rather than taking up major policy issues on their own merit.
John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times wrote “there is a war on the horizon and you better be prepared …because America’s schools are that important.”
Romano goes on to say “until now the teachers union has been the only reliable voice pushing back against the defunding of traditional schools.”
And ladies and gentleman, that is why FEA and its teachers have been singled out in HB 7055.
That is why the leadership of the Florida House wants to try and silence the FEA with the provision to decertify our union.
Make no mistake, the goal of this bill is to coerce both house and senate members to take it or leave it.
If the individual proposals in HB 7055 are so brilliant, they should be able to withstand the public scrutiny and healthy debate in committees; and then pass or fail on their own merits – rather than be lumped together in a take it or leave it package.
I urge you to uphold the constitution and vote no on this train bill, HB 7055.
[Note: the bill passed the committee along party lines. The next stop for this bill will be the full House. Speaker Corcoran has raised the stakes even higher by including a provision in the state budget bill that makes next year’s funding for Florida’s public schools – the entire FEFP – contingent on the passage of his priorities in HB 7055 – which include using sales tax to fund vouchers for unaccountable private school and the “instructional personnel” union decertification if under 50% paid membership]