Key investments in public safety and environmental infrastructure;
Historic per-student funding, $1 billion toward $15/hour wage
The Florida Senate today passed House Bill 5001, the General Appropriations Act, amended with the contents of Senate’s proposed state budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. The Senate also passed the implementing bill and conforming bills associated with a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Appropriations Committee Chair Senator Stargel (R-Lakeland) and Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) offered the following statements highlighting several components of the budget.
Statement from Senator Stargel:
“The Senate’s proposed budget reflects a responsible, balanced approach to making key investments in our environmental and clean water resources, public safety and transportation infrastructure, while bolstering our rainy day fund to ensure we remain prepared to tackle any future challenges that face our state.
“To ensure every child in Florida can read by the third grade, our budget places an increased emphasis on early literacy and PreK-12 education, including the highest-ever rate per child in the history of the Voluntary Prekindergarten program. Additionally, our budget also includes a historic increase in per-student funding for K-12 education, raising per student funding to more than $8,000 for the first time in state history.
“While Florida is experiencing a 40-year low crime rate and declining prison population, Florida’s prison system is in dire need of support due to high staff turnover and deteriorating facilities. Our budget increases correctional officer salaries to a minimum of $20 per hour and provides retention pay. It also makes historic investments in two 4,500-bed prisons and two new prison hospitals. These investments will help improve the safety of our correctional officers and all Floridians.”
Statement from President Simpson:
“First and foremost, this budget continues our commitment to improving Florida’s Child Welfare System by enhancing benefits for caregivers who are relatives and increasing the child care subsidy for foster families. Ensuring Florida children have every opportunity to build successful lives begins with loving, permanent homes, which is the least we can do for some of our most vulnerable Floridians.
“We are also investing $1 billion to ensure the Floridians who either work for the state or contract with the state, and spend each day educating, protecting and caring for others in our communities earn at least $15 per hour. I am thrilled to see the Senate lead the charge to implement a $15 per hour wage for those who serve the public, from our cafeteria workers to those who care for our elderly, well in advance of the constitutional deadline.
“Our budget also makes tremendous investments in the DOT work program and builds on our effort that began last year to infuse a steady stream of funds into affordable housing programs, wastewater projects, including septic-to-sewer conversions, and to mitigate sea-level rise. We also prioritize funding for environmental restoration and clean water resources with key investments in water storage around Lake Okeechobee. Florida has a job for everyone who wants one, and we remain the envy of the nation as a beacon of freedom. Our budget leverages these successes to prepare for a more prosperous tomorrow while focusing on the critical needs of the day.”
In the coming days the Senators will begin a budget conference with their House colleagues to reconcile differences between the budgets proposed by each chamber.