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DeSantis Signs Off On $500M Teacher Pay Raises As Budget Cuts Loom

A large group of people assembled in front of a white, columned building with red and white banners on the windows
Kate Payne
/
WFSU News
Teachers from across Florida gather inside the state Capitol to rally for increased funding for education on Friday (2016).

Governor Ron DeSantis has formally signed off on teacher pay raises. The state is planning on spending about $500 million to bring Florida to near the top of states for starting salaries. The move comes as DeSantis has promised cuts to the upcoming state budget to deal with revenue losses from the pandemic.

“Although we have not made every decision about the budget, I can report This will be there 100%. We’re going to have to make tough choices, but this is important," he said Wednesday during a bill signing at a South Florida charter school.

The teacher pay plan creates a base teacher salary of $47,500. The plan is a compromise between the House and Senate and allows for districts already at that level, to use some of the money to increase pay for other teachers. The approval of raises comes as the state continues to grapple with a teacher shortage and has been a longtime priority of teachers' unions.

"This $500 million investment in Florida’s teachers is especially meaningful given the current circumstances. It speaks to the deep value of public education to our state’s future,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram in a statement sent after DeSantis signed the bill.

“We’ve all heard the reports that many issues, including some of the governor’s priorities, are on the chopping block for vetoes. The decision to leave this investment for Florida’s schools intact is an acknowledgment of the hard work our members do each and every day for Florida’s students. We thank Gov. DeSantis for signing this very important bill into law, and we look forward to working with the governor and the Legislature to ensure Florida's public schools move from the bottom in the nation to the top when it comes to per-student spending.”