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House budget chief Travis Cummings and Senate budget chief Rob Bradley brief reporters on the state's finances during a March 2020 budget conference.

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Budget conference: State employees to receive 3% pay raise

House and Senate leaders agreed to the upper house’s plan for state employees.

The House and Senate have agreed to give state employees an across-the-board 3% pay raise for the coming fiscal year.

That move puts the two chambers consolidating on an agreement state union workers called historical.

Senate budget chief Rob Bradley — standing alongside his House counterpart, Travis Cummings — gave a definitive yes to the across the board raise in a meeting with reporters. That agreement showed the House fully acceding to the Senate’s proposal.

Jacqui Carmona, political director of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Florida, lauded lawmakers for reaching an agreement in favor of state workers. But Mike Brennan, a negotiator for the Florida State Fire Service Association,

During contract negotiations with the Department of Management Services (DMS), the state’s largest union of government employees had posed an initial offer of 5% across the board pay raise. But the department never returned a counteroffer, insisting it had no authority to okay the state’s spending.

When the Senate dropped its original budget proposal, it suggested a 3% pay raise for all state workers, the first proportional raise in recent memory. The budget also outlines that the minimum increase will be $1,000 if a 3% increase would fall below that.

However, the House proposed those making less than $51,800 per year get $1,800, capped at a $51,800 sum. In effect, that model would have provided a larger pay raise to those making less than $50,291.26 annually, at which point the Senate’s budget presents more.

Carmona and AFSCME backed the Senate’s initial plan over the House’s. That outline offered the most collectively for state workers, she argued.

House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee joined in praise of the deal. The Cutler Bay Representative noted the pay raises were a priority of his caucus.

“We are proud that this year our hardworking state employees will get raises,” he said in a statement. “They do an incredible job for the citizens of our state.”

And Tallahassee Democratic Rep. Loranne Ausley, whose district is home to thousands of state employees, joined her caucus leader in support.

“Our state employees keep the wheels of the state working,” she said. “I’m pleased the leadership of the House and Senate recognized their need for an overdue raise.”

Since 2008, AFSCME employees have received two pay raises. In 2013 and 2017, employees making more than $40,000 per year received $1,000 raises. And those making less than $40,000 received $1,400 raises.

Florida has consistently ranked among the bottom tier of state employee salaries per capita in recent years. The Sunshine State also ranks among the lowest in average state employee salary.

Bradley said the budget covers the increased cost of state health insurance, approximately $640 for individuals and $1,440 for families. But state employee premiums have stayed the same recently, Carmona said — the state has picked up the tab for years.

“These employees are the lifeblood of the Sunshine State, serving Floridians across a wide variety of industries, while often living paycheck to paycheck and working multiple jobs just to make ends meet,” Carmona said.

As for a cost of living allowance, another state worker request, lawmakers were unready to strike a deal. Bills reinstating the COLA (SB 1114/HB 845) never made it out of the committee process.

But the Legislature looks set to agree to an additional raise for officers in the Department of Corrections, a priority of Gov. Ron DeSantis and Secretary Mark Inch.

Written By

Renzo Downey covers the Florida Legislature for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

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