Major investments in public safety and environmental infrastructure,
unprecedented per-student funding, $1 billion toward $15/hour wage
The Florida Senate Committee on Appropriations, chaired by Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland), today released Senate Proposed Bill 2500, the General Appropriations Act, a proposed state budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, as well as the implementing bill and conforming bills associated with a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Statements from Senator Stargel and Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) include several highlights of the proposed budget.
Statement from Senator Stargel:
“The Senate’s balanced budget continues our commitment to responsibly spend state revenues on the critical needs of the day, while at the same time planning for investments in our transportation, environmental and public safety infrastructure that will benefit Floridians years into the future. We also set aside a significant rainy day fund that will ensure Florida remains ready to take on whatever challenges may come our way.
“With a focus on early literacy and PreK-12 education, our budget includes historic funding to help ensure that every child is able to read before the third grade. In K-12, a $1.4 billion increase is the second largest total increase in funding in the last 30 years, and we believe the largest base funds increase in at least the last 25 years. In Pre-K, we raise the rate per child from $2,486 to $3,294, the highest level in the program’s history.
“Recognizing the longstanding problems with how Florida manages our prison system, we are bringing officer salaries to at least $20 per hour and dedicating funds to retention pay. We are also making tremendous investments in our public safety infrastructure by constructing two 4,500-bed prisons and two new prison hospitals. These efficient and state-of-the-art facilities will be safer for both officers and inmates and will allow us to close older, less efficient facilities and save on maintenance and repair dollars. We are at an 18-year low in terms of prison population, so this is a good time to address these ongoing challenges.”
Statement from President Simpson:
“Throughout our budget we are making a $1 billion investment of state funds in a $15 per hour wage for public servants. From school bus drivers to maintenance and cafeteria workers to voluntary prekindergarten staff, every employee in our education system will be making at least a $15 per hour wage. The same goes for health care, including caregivers who serve Floridians who are sick, elderly or have a disability, and those work with at-risk children in our criminal justice system. Florida has a job for anyone who wants one, and I am pleased to see the Senate make good on its commitment to implement a $15 per hour wage years in advance of the constitutional timeline.
“Continuing our efforts to improve Florida’s Child Welfare System and help more children find the loving, permanent families they want and need earlier in life, our budget enhances benefits for caregivers who are relatives and increases the child care subsidy for foster families.
“We know that investing in infrastructure leads to job creation that further bolster’s our strong and growing economy. In this budget, we are making significant infrastructure investments in public safety, clean water and Everglades restoration, including northern storage ASR wells, as well as preservation and expansion of Florida’s iconic wildlife corridor. We fully fund the DOT work program and continue the infrastructure planning efforts we started last year, which provide a steady stream of funding to affordable housing, wastewater, and mitigating sea-level rise. We also continue our work to address the backlog of maintenance issues at our state properties, as well as our education facilities from K-12 to our colleges and universities.”
A full summary of SPB 2500 is attached. The legislation will be considered by the Senate Committee on Appropriations on Wednesday, February 9, 2022.