Senate could boost Florida prison guard pay

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Senate budget chief Rob Bradley said he expects the Senate’s budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year will include pay raises for correctional officers.

“I anticipate we will do pay raises for correctional officers and (Senate President Bill Galvano) has already opined, and many of us fully support the idea, that we will do across-the-board pay raises (for state employees),” Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican who chairs the Appropriations Committee, told reporters late Wednesday.

Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Chairman Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, told The News Service of Florida on Tuesday the Senate is looking at injecting “substantial dollars” into correctional officer pay raises.

The Senate’s initial criminal-justice budget proposal does not include money for a $60 million retention-pay plan that Gov. Ron DeSantis has requested.

DeSantis has asked lawmakers to provide funding for the plan to address the high turnover rate of prison guards in the Department of Corrections.

But Bradley said leaving the money out of the initial Senate budget proposal is “no indication” that the Senate will not propose pay raises for correctional officers in the future.

Final budget negotiations will take place in March.

“We deal with salary matters down the road,” Bradley said. “That’s common practice.”

Bradley said providing more money for correctional officers will not hinder the Senate’s ability to boost the salaries of public school teachers -- another DeSantis priority -- during the fiscal year that will start July 1.

“We can do both,” Bradley said.