Florida’s House and Senate are closing in on approving their respective budgets and are looking forward to beginning negotiations, potentially early next week.
The two chambers are at odds in certain key items, and are aligned elsewhere. They’re relatively close on environmental spending, with an emphasis on water quality, and plans to allocate roughly $650 million. But on land acquisition for conservation, done through the state’s Florida Forever program, the House is asking for $20 million, and the Senate wants more than six times that.
The two are $150 million apart on teacher pay raises. The Senate wants $500 million, while the House plan goes higher at $650 million. The two proposals bookend Governor Ron DeSantis’ ask of roughly $600 million to make average starting teacher pay $47,500 – which both chambers are trying to get close to.
Senate President Bill Galvano says talks with the House will begin soon.
"We’ve now teed up our budget to take it up on third reading tomorrow," Galvano told media following the Senate's floor session Wednesday. "As you heard me say, I feel like we’ll get our work done and be in a position to start having conversations with the Florida House on allocations early next week."
Both chambers have different schemes for a potential pay raise for state workers. The House earmarks $181 million to give raises to those making less than $50,000. The Senate’s plan would give a 3 percent raise to state employees across the board at nearly $250 million.
The Senate’s overall proposed budget totals $92.8 billion, and the House slightly less at $91.4 billion – a .4 percent increase over the current fiscal year.