TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis's 2020-2021 budget proposal rises slightly from last year and allocates billions in funding for education initiatives.
- Governor shared his 2020-2021 proposal at state Capitol
- This budget proposal came in at $91.4 billion
- $97M in new funding would go toward child welfare system
- Plan would end "Best and Brightest" teacher retention program
- RELATED: Amid Guardianship Scrutiny, DeSantis Wants $6.4M to Boost Oversight
The governor unveiled his plan at the state Capitol in Tallahassee on Monday morning.
This year’s proposed budget is $91.4 billion, compared with last fiscal year’s budget of $91 billion, and focuses on three key areas: education, the environment, and health care.
"Many of you know, we put out some major initiatives over the last few months, telegraphing how the budget would look like. The environment we’re going to keep the momentum on that. And we have a lot of major education initiatives," DeSantis said.
When it comes to education, DeSantis announced $22.9 billion in funding: $900 million would go to initiatives for teacher compensation and bonuses.
To help schools boost security, he proposes allocating $25 million.
The governor also referenced his plan to bump starting teacher pay by $10,000 to $47,500, bringing Florida from 26th in the nation to second.
"That represents 101,000 current teachers that will see a raise. And I think that will be something having a meaningful impact in terms of recruiting and retaining folks," DeSantis said.
Among the highlights on environmental funds:
- $2.5 billion would go to protect water resources over four years;
- $300 million would go toward Everglades restoration;
- Another $150 million is proposed for water quality improvements;
- $50 million would go to beach renourishment;
- $22 million would combat red tide;
- And $9 million would go toward protecting coral reefs.
As for health care, DeSantis proposes:
- $54 million to fight the opioid epidemic;
- $97 milion in new funding for the child welfare system;
- $17 million for mental health and substance abuse programs;
- And $18 million in Orange and St. Lucie counties to complete state nursing homes.
"I think the thing is it’s great to have bold ideas. We live in the realm of what’s possible. And I think all the stuff we’ve laid out is doable, possible, and I think it'll make a real impact on the state of Florida," DeSantis said.
In June 2019, DeSantis took pen to paper and put his signature on the $91 billion budget.
That budget focused on environmental projects, such as $400 million to restore the Everglades; it also included billions for recovery from hurricanes Irma and Michael and $22 billion for education.
Months later, the governor made waves as he rolled out a proposal to raise starting teacher pay by $10,000 to $47,500, which he said would help stem the teacher shortage.
Some Republicans, such as House Speaker Jose Oliva, worried about the cost of the $600 million investment, compounded when DeSantis more recently proposed an additional $300 million for merit-based teacher bonuses.
The proposal aimed to bring Florida to No. 2 in the nation in terms of starting teacher pay.