FL Legislature carves $550 million for goal to boost starting salaries for FL teachers to $47,500

Teacher with students in elementary school science class. Credit: Getty Images

Florida House and Senate are finally on the same page on raising starting salaries for public school teachers.

The 2021-22 state budget includes $550 million for the goal of boosting starting salaries to $47,500, an initiative launched in 2019 by by Gov. Ron DeSantis. That $550 million is $50 million more than the current budget year.

Back in January, DeSantis proposed his recommendations for the 2021-22 state budget, one of which was to increase funds for teacher salaries, particularly for starting teachers.

DeSantis proposed that the Legislature carve out $550 million dollars for the initiative — $50 million more than the current state budget year in order to get more starting and veteran teachers earning at least $47,500.

House and Senate lawmakers crafting the state budget were apart for awhile, but they came together to provide the extra $50 million the governor wanted.

The move to increase teacher salaries has been one of DeSantis’ priorities for some time now. In 2019, when he was a first-term Republican governor, he outlined a $603 million plan to set the minimum salary for all teachers at $47,500 a year, beginning in the 2020-21 fiscal year, though those plans did not pan out.

Instead, the 2020-21 budget provided $500 million dollars to boost teacher pay raises. After negotiating with teacher unions, Florida school districts were able to pay their teachers higher salaries. Depending on each district, some teachers got a raise of more than $9,000.

However, not many counties were able to give their teachers the $47,500 from the first round of the initiative, the Phoenix previously reported. Even with the $550 million that will go out to districts in the 2021-22 budget, it’s not clear when all districts will be able to pay their teachers at $47,500 a year, if ever.

The new state budget is scheduled for a vote on Friday by the Legislature. The budget had been wrapped up but it requires a three-day waiting period to vote.