Preliminary FL House budget plan falls short of DeSantis’ proposal for raising teacher pay

Public education rally at Florida's Old Capitol. Credit: Issac Morgan

The Florida House has come up well short of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plan to boost starting teacher pay to $47,500 a year and to offer a revamped bonus program for educators.

In a preliminary budget proposal, which is likely to be modified before the House advances its proposed state budget in a few weeks, House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Chris Latvala, a Clearwater Republican, said Thursday that the plan includes $462.6 million for teacher pay raises.

It’s more than $400 million less than what the Republican governor proposed in his budget for the 2020-21 budget year, which begins July 1. DeSantis wants $602 million to increase starting teacher pay to $47,500. He also advanced a $300 million educator bonus plan to replace the existing $284.5 million “Best and Brightest” bonus program for teachers and principals.

Meanwhile, Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, a Clay County Republican, said the issue of teacher pay remains “front and center” in the Senate budget deliberations.

“That’s an issue that we’re going to aggressively address this session,” Bradley said. “What the details [are], what it looks like, that remains to be seen. But that is certainly going to be a major issue.”

Earlier this week, Senate Democrats advanced a plan for an across-the-board 7.5 percent pay increase for teachers and other school personnel. Here is a Florida Phoenix story on the proposal.

Hundreds of teachers from across the state marched to the state Capitol on Monday, calling for higher pay. Here is a Florida Phoenix story on the march.