TAMPA, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott unveiled his $500 million school safety plan Wednesday morning exactly two weeks after a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister also spoke during the announcement at the sheriff's office.
"Florida is never going to be the same," Scott said. "We have to make sure Florida is never the same."
Scott called for "common-sense solutions" in response to the Valentine's Day school shooting and to ensure student safety.
"That day I called my daughters and said, 'Unfortunately, in your lifetime, you're going to have to teach your children about an active shooter and what they do,'" Scott said. "'You're going to have to teach them, that even though they're safe at their house, they're going to have to think about being safe at their school.'
"Parents shouldn't have to worry about whether they get up in the morning and send their child to a school whether they're going to be safe or not."
The effort includes:
- Requiring anyone in the state wanting to purchase a firearm to be 21 years of age or older
- Putting law enforcement officers in every public schools
- Putting a "threat-assessment team" at every school
- Hiring more mental health counselors and providing more mental health resources
- Banning "bump stocks"
- Creating an anonymous "see something, say something" statewide hotline
- Preventing people struggling with a mental illness who are threatening themselves or others from acquiring a gun
"There's nothing more important than to do all we can to make sure an evil act like this never ever happens again in this state," Scott said.
Scott said the state is operating on a surplus when asked if he would have to shift funding to implement his $500 million plan.
"We have to get this done. We have the resources to do it," Scott said. "I walked into a situation with over $3 billion projected revenue over current expenses, and since then, projected revenues have gone up, not gone down.
"We have a strong economy. We have to invest in our schools."
Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School returned to class on Wednesday. Districts throughout the country reported increases in reported threats after the Parkland shooting, including several in Tampa Bay.
"With social media, parents you need to tell your kids, 'if you see something on Snapchat, report it.'" Bondi said. "I don't care what happened in this instance, from now on, it will be given the attention that it deserves."
Bondi said Florida students would help name and design the logo for a statewide app where students could anonymously report any instances where a child is threatened.
Last week, Scott gathered educators, mental health professionals and law enforcement officers in Tallahassee to discuss school safety.
"We applaud you for not taking a knee-jerk or an emotional action in light of the Parkland tragedy, but instead developing a common-sense approach to keeping our children, our schools and our community safe," Chronister said.
March 9 marks the last day of the regular session for the Florida legislature.
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