Florida House and Senate lawmakers wrestle over a different of $50 million for teacher pay raises during the last week of the session

How much more should be spent to increase the starting salaries of Florida teachers — an initiative pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis?

There’s no agreement yet, as House and Senate budget negotiators try to finish the state budget for 2021-22 in the waning days of the legislative session.

While both chambers proposed keeping the starting teacher salaries at $500 million for districts across the state, there’s now a clash as the House wants an additional $50 million for the pay initiative, totaling $550 million.

But so far, the Senate hasn’t budged on adding more money.

The initiative is a way to help ensure starting teachers, and well as other teachers, earn an annual salary of at least $47,500.

Now, members of the Senate committee will have to decide their next move — will they accept the House’s increase of $50 million for teacher pay raises, stick with $500 million, or offer a compromise between $500 and $550 million?

In 2019, DeSantis outlined a $603 million plan to set the minimum salary for all teachers at $47,500 a year, beginning in the 2020-21 fiscal year.

At the time, the average starting salary for Florida teachers in 2017-18 was $37,636 a year, according to the National Education Association. Florida ranked 27th of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., just below the national average of $39,249.


This report first appeared on the website of the Florida Phoenix, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to coverage of state government and politics from Tallahassee.

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