Senate unveils $108.6 billion budget with pay raises for state employees


Low-wage state workers would see increases and K-12 schools would get a financial boost, as would nearly every part of the state budget under a plan to expenses published Friday by the Senate.

The proposed $108.6 billion plan would represent a more than $7 billion increase in the current year’s budget, largely thanks to an injection of federal stimulus funds given to states to deal with the pandemic. of COVID-19.

President of the Senate wilton simpsona Republican from Trilby, lobbied to increase pay for low-wage state workers by raising the minimum wage at $15. A constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2020 will raise the minimum wage for all workers to $15 by 2026, but Simpson says the rapid increase is needed to recruit and retain workers in needed fields.

“From school bus drivers to maintenance and cafeteria workers to volunteer pre-kindergarten staff, every employee in our education system will earn at least $15 an hour,” Simpson said in a statement. . “The same goes for health care, including caregivers caring for sick, elderly, or disabled Floridians, and those working with at-risk children in our criminal justice system.”

The Senate plan, however, goes beyond the $15 an hour hike. Those earning between $15 and $25 could also get a raise. And employees working for state providers, such as nursing home workers, will also get pay rises. The total cost of the plan is $1 billion.

The Senate budget invests $24 billion in K-12 schools, an increase of $1.46 billion, or 6.5%. That pushes funding per student to $3,294, a jump of $808 from the current year.

“With a focus on early literacy and pre-school through 12th grade, our budget includes historic funding to help ensure every child is able to read by grade three,” the budget leader said. of the Senate. Kelly Stargel, a Republican from Lakeland, said in a released statement. “In K-12, a $1.4 billion increase is the second-largest total increase in funding in the past 30 years, and we believe the largest increase in core funds at least in the past 25 years.”

Part of that funding includes $50 million to help school districts reach out to government. Ron DeSantis goal of bringing teachers to a minimum salary of $47,500. Some districts, but not all, have reached this level.

The spending plan, however, ignores other parts of DeSantis’ proposed budget, such as a an additional $37 million in cancer research funding and his $1 billion gas tax cut plan.

On health care, the Senate would spend $47.8 billion, an increase of $3.3 billion over the current year. Much of that stems from a spike in Medicaid caseloads, which have skyrocketed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as has federal funding for the program.

The plan will be considered and voted on at Wednesday’s Senate Appropriations Committee meeting, followed by a vote in the Senate later in the legislative session. This will pave the way for negotiations with the House for the final spending plan for the 2022-23 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The House did not release its overall budget Friday afternoon.

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