The House and Senate agreed to $1,000 one-time bonuses for teachers during the state’s budget conference. The money for the direct payments will come from Covid-19 relief funding earmarked for education in the American Rescue Plan (ARP).
While some negotiations over the state’s nearly $100 billion budget for the next fiscal year are still ongoing, an agreement was reached on the state’s education budget during a meeting Friday.
Sen. Kelli Stargel and Rep. Jay Trumball are leading the budget conference negotiations for their respective chambers. Both budget chiefs said teacher pay was a priority.
The agreed upon education budget allocates $216 million for direct payments to early childhood learning and K-12 teachers and principals at district and charter schools.
“We feel that those teachers have gone back and worked with these children,” Stargel said.
The plan also includes a $50 million dollar plan for teacher pay raises.
“We both were trying to make sure that not only did we deliver on the $1,000 per teacher bonuses, but we also added $50,000 million to teacher pay as a recurring basis,” Trumball said.
Gov. Ron DeSantis had pushed for direct payments to teachers and first responders. He included the same amount of money for the teacher’s payments in his budget proposal.
The money in the House and Senate’s plan for the teacher bonuses will come ARP funding earmarked for education. The ARP designated $112 billion dollars for education. Out of that education money, Florida will receive $12 billion, $7 billion of which will go directly to the state’s early childhood learning and K through 12 education. These teacher bonuses would come from that pot of money.
The House and Senate have not agreed to any direct payments for first responders, but that money would come from $10.2 billion of ARP money earmarked for state and local government. While negotiations for that funding have not been finalized, both the House and the Senate have made budget offers that did not include any direct payments for first responders. But the Trumball and Stargel have said the payments are a priority. Stargel indicated the there may be another budget offer for these funds on Sunday.
“My understanding is that we’re going to meet again on Sunday, give it a little more time to continue on that,” Stargel said.
There will be no budget negotiations Saturday.
President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion dollar ARP into law in March.