Education funding at the center of the governor’s 2020 budget proposal

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Governor Ron DeSantis proposed a modest increase of just 0.4 percent in the overall state budget for the coming year, but Florida schools will get over a billion new dollars under his plan.

The bulk of the increase, $602 million is for teacher raises.(MGN)

School spending would increase $302 for each of the 2.8 million K-12 students.

It would rise to just under $8,000 per student.

“That’s an increase of just over a billion dollars over last year,” said DeSantis.

The bulk of the increase, $602 million, is for teacher raises.

“Everybody in Florida will be at a minimum of $47,500, and so that represents 101,000 current teachers that will see a raise,” said DeSantis.

And the Governor re-purposes $300 million being spent on teacher bonuses that currently rely on decades old college admission test scores, and replaces it with a program based on performance and school grades.

“You know, if the school reaches a certain threshold, an 85 or better, every teacher gets a bonus. If you’re not at that threshold, but you improve by a certain amount year over year, every teacher gets a bonus,” said DeSantis.

There’s also $100 million for mental health, a $25 million increase over last year, and another $25 million for school safety grants.

The Governor is also asking lawmakers for just under $250 million to keep property taxes for schools from going up based on the increased value of your home.

University funding remains basically flat under the Governor’s proposal, but the plan doesn’t increase tuition.

“This is becoming a really good value, and you can’t say that about too many other aspects of higher education,” said DeSantis.

There is also a nearly $12 million increase for pre K programs.

It’s the first increase in at least six years.

The plan must still be approved by lawmakers, and the reaction from the House Speaker was mixed.

In a statement, Jose Oliva said “While the details of his ambitious teacher-pay program remain obscure - not a small matter, his commitment to responsible spending is crystal clear. A solid base upon which to begin our budget discussions.”