FL Senate budget plan includes a 3 percent pay hike for state workers

State workers and their supporters hold a rally for pay raises, on Dec. 18, 2019. Credit: Lloyd Dunkelberger

State workers would be in line for a 3 percent raise, with correctional officers working in the state prison system receiving a little more under the Florida Senate’s proposed $92.8 billion state budget for 2020-21.

If the Senate position prevails in budget negotiations with the House, it would mark the first across-the-board raises for state workers since 2013. The raise would take effect July 1, with the start of the new budget year.

“This year, one of our commitments from the onset of our budget planning was to invest in a salary increase for our state employees,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley said in a written statement on Thursday.

Bradley, a Clay County Republican, also noted state workers would not see an increase in their health insurance premiums, with the state covering the $640 annual increase for single workers and $1,440 cost for family coverage under the Senate proposal (SB 2500).

The lowest-paid state workers could see a higher raise in the coming year under the Senate plan, which states that all workers would receive at least a $1,000 annual raise.

For a worker making $29,000 a year, it would represent a 3.4 percent raise, according to the plan.

Those raises could be meaningful in a workforce in which a little more than eight out of every 10 state workers were classified as “career service” employees in 2017-18, earning an average salary of $37,163, according an annual workforce report from the state Department of Management Services.

State labor leaders praised the Senate’s proposal.

“We are thrilled that the hard work of our dedicated state employees is being recognized in the Senate budget,” said Vicki Hall, president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Florida Council 79. “Our members raised their voices to remind our legislators who it is that makes Florida tick and those voices have been heard.”

Here is a Florida Phoenix story about a recent state workers’ rally.

“While this doesn’t alleviate all of the outstanding issues in our contract [negotiations], it is a big step in the right direction,” Hall said in a statement. “We are particularly pleased that Chair Rob Bradley has addressed rising health care costs for state workers and that he has moved to ensure these costs would not be passed on to public employees.”

In addition to a 3 percent raise, state correctional officers would see an additional pay increase, aimed at curbing rampant turnover among guards in the state prison system.

The Florida Phoenix has reported on the prison system’s staffing problems in this story.

Correctional officers with less than two years of service would receive an additional $500 annual raise. Officers with more than two years of service but less than five years would receive an additional $1,500 raise. Officers with more than five years would receive an additional $2,500 raise, according to the Senate plan.

The Senate budget plan also includes $500 million for teacher pay raises, with 80 percent of the funding aimed at increasing starting teacher pay across the state to at least $47,000 a year. The additional funding would be used to increase pay for veteran teachers.

Here is a Florida Phoenix story on the Senate teacher-pay plan.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis did not include an across-the-board pay raise for state workers in his budget proposal, but he did call for increasing pay for correctional officers. He also wants lawmakers to boost education spending enough to provide a minimum $47,500 salary for all teachers.