TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday touted the state’s “fiscal health” amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, saying he’s proposing another pay raise for teachers and an increase in per-student spending.
DeSantis rolled out his 2021-2022 budget during a news conference at the state Capitol in Tallahassee, saying Florida is better off than many other states that took a harder stance on lockdowns during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Florida also led and continues to lead on protecting the livelihoods of our people,” DeSantis said. “While so many other states kept locking people down, Florida lifted people up. We believe every job is essential.
DeSantis said his budget includes $550 million for teacher pay raises, an increase of $50 million, to continue raising the minimum K-12 teacher salary to $47,500.
The budget also includes $22.8 billion in total funding and $12.9 billion in state funding for K-12 public schools, exceeding the current year’s record funding by $233 per student.
The Legislature ultimately approves the budget, although DeSantis has veto authority.
The total budget presented by DeSantis for fiscal year 2021-2022 is $96.6 billion, an increase of $4.3 billion over the current fiscal year. DeSantis said, however, $2.6 billion accounts for various expenditures related to the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response and its impacts on Floridians.
The budget places $6.6 billion in total reserves, more than 6% of the total budget.
The governor’s recommended budget also includes $65 million in tax relief for Florida families, including a $56 million 8-day back-to-school sales tax holiday and a $9 million 10-day disaster preparedness sales tax holiday.