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Florida Senate proposes $92.8 billion state budget

Posted at 4:59 PM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-30 16:59:47-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Senate released a $92.8 billion state budget proposal Thursday that includes raises for state workers and teachers.

The proposed spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 would be a $1.8 billion increase over the current budget. It's also $1.4 billion more than the budget Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed in November.

"The Senate budget builds on our commitment to elevate the teachers and school personnel who serve students in our neighborhood public schools," Senate President Bill Galvano said in a news release announcing the proposal. "Our proposed Senate budget raises per-student funding to an unprecedented level."

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The budget includes $500 million for teacher raises. DeSantis is proposing $600,000.

Overall, the Senate wants an increase of nearly $763 million for schools, or an additional $181.29 per student over the current budget.

The budget also calls for a 3% across the board raise for state employees, while DeSantis isn't proposing state worker raises. The Senate proposal also calls for the state picking up the full increase in state employees' health insurance costs rather than passing it along to workers. The increase is expected to be $640 for an individual and $1,440 for family coverage.

The Senate proposal seeks $125 million for the Florida Forever program to buy conservation land, $25 million more than DeSantis is requesting. The Senate also is seeking about $319 million for Everglades restoration, slightly less than the governor is proposing.

The Senate and DeSantis proposals both include $50 million for Visit Florida, the state's tourism marketing agency. The House hasn't released its budget proposal, but House Speaker Jose Oliva has made it clear he wants to eliminate the agency.

After the House releases its budget, the two chambers will have until March 10 to work out differences if they want to end their annual 60-day session on time. Once the Legislature approves the budget, DeSantis can veto individual lines in it.