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Florida Senate proposes $600 million for teacher pay hikes

Money school
Money school (WJXT)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After it appeared the House and Senate had agreed on spending $500 million to increase teacher salaries, the Senate on Sunday proposed upping the amount to $600 million.

The proposal came a day after the House indicated it would go along with an initial Senate plan to spend $500 million.

Increasing teacher pay is a top priority of Gov. Ron DeSantis and has been a high-profile issue during this year’s legislative session.

DeSantis asked the Legislature to approve a $602 million plan that would set a minimum salary of $47,500 for public school teachers.

The House initially proposed $650 million for teacher salary increases but indicated during negotiations Saturday that it would accept the Senate’s $500 million proposal.

In another round of negotiations Sunday evening, the Senate offered to go to $600 million on the issue.

Senate Education Appropriations Chairwoman Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, said lawmakers are “still trying to meet the goal of the governor of trying to hit that minimum salary for our teachers.”

DeSantis also asked legislators to set aside $300 million for a new teacher and principal bonus program that would replace the embattled “Best and Brightest” bonus program.

The House and Senate have rejected DeSantis proposed funding for a bonus program.