TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing a $91.4 billion state budget for the fiscal year that begins in July, which includes the money needed to raise the starting salary for teachers to $47,500.
The budget proposal released Monday is slightly more than the state’s current $91 billion spending plan.
The budget proposal includes more than $600 million to raise the minimum salary for teachers to $47,500, which DeSantis said will boost the pay for more than 101,000 teachers.
“It’s bold, it’s meaningful but it’s within the context of a budget that works,” DeSantis said at a news conference Monday. “I’d like to expand the pool of college graduates that would consider teaching and I think this is one way you can do it.”
It’s not only for new teachers, the governor clarified Monday.
"Everybody will be at a minimum of $47,500," he said.
That means for Orange County teacher Ashley Modesto would get a raise. Her starting salary was $39,500 four years ago and now she earns $43,000. Currently, she has two part-time jobs on top of teaching, including working as a private tutor and an Uber driver.
"This will allow me to make extra payments on my student loans," Modesto said. "That's a step in the right direction but I believe we can do more."
Modesto means more for veteran teachers who already make $47,500 and wouldn’t be getting a larger raise in the governor’s proposal.
Wendy Doromal, president of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association, said she feels though this raise could recruit teachers, it could backfire when trying to retain teachers. Currently, she says the starting salary for a teacher in Orange County is $40,000.
“Even if they all come up to $47,500, would you want to be a teacher who has taught for seven years and you are making the same as a teacher who is coming from college?” she asked. “We are not just talking about recruiting, we have to retain teachers. You can’t retain teachers if there is not a progressive rise in your pay year to year.”
The governor’s proposal also includes $75 million in grants to help make schools more secure.
DeSantis also proposes creating 549 new state jobs, while eliminating 141 positions, nearly all of which are currently vacant.
Doromal said there will be a busload of teachers headed to Tallahassee on Jan. 13 to lobby for more for teachers. That’s one day before the legislative sessions begins.
The proposal is only a recommendation. The Legislature will approve a budget during the annual session that begins Jan. 14. DeSantis will then be able to veto individual items in the budget presented to him.