State House and Senate budget committees voted Wednesday to earmark millions for public school teacher pay raises, though it’s not clear how long it would take for all teachers to get starting pay of $47,500 recommended by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The Senate’s $92.8 billion budget bill (SB 2500) earmarks $500 million for teacher raises, with the bulk of the money aimed at increasing the minimum salaries to $47,500 a year.
That would take some time, according to Sen. Kelli Stargel, the Lakeland Republican who oversees education spending in the Senate.
She said the earmarked funds “requires (school) districts to use 80 percent of their total allocation to increase minimum classroom salaries towards the governor’s goal of ($47,500), with the intent that this goal would be met statewide over the next several years.”
The House’s $91.4 billion budget bill (PCB APC 20-01) includes $650 million earmarked for increasing teacher salaries.
Rep. Chris Latvala, the Clearwater Republican who heads the House education budget subcommittee, said $500 million of the House’s $650 million pay package is aimed at increasing minimum teacher pay across the state.
Latvala focused on a $47,000 average salary statewide, and presumably not what individual teachers would get in various counties.
“As a result of this funding policy, Florida will have a weighted statewide average base salary of $47,000, which enables the state to have the second highest average starting salary in the nation,” Latvala said.
Based on 2017-18 data from the National Education Association, New Jersey’s average starting salary of $51,443 is the highest of the 50 states.
California’s average of $46,992 is second, and would be about tied with Florida if the state House figure uses $47,000. The NEA 2017-18 data currently shows Florida at $37,636 for starting pay.
The budget bills move to the House and Senate floors next week. The differences between the spending plans for the 2020-21 budget year will then have to be worked out in negotiations between the two chambers before the session’s scheduled end on March 13.
Florida Phoenix editor Diane Rado contributed to this report